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Tracking Your Health: There's an App for That

UW Health Fitness Center staff offers tips to find the right health tracking app for you.

 

Chances are, if you have a smartphone, you have access to an app that can do just about anything. Whether you want to track your weight, your BMI, count your steps or your calories, workout in seven minutes or get from a couch to a 5K, you can find something to help you. But how you choose what’s right for you?

 

Guidelines for Choosing an App

 

Like a trip to the grocery stores, the number of choices can be overwhelming and may even lead to the temptation to just forget about it. But, there is a lot of value to using an app to help you reach your fitness goals. The challenge is that there is no “best” app for everyone, it all depends on what you’d like to do. But, there are some guidelines that can help:

 

  1. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you looking to just get moving, track your calories throughout the day, manage your stress, train for a half-marathon? When you can be clear about your goals, it makes it easier to narrow down the choices of apps.

  2. Do you want an app or wearable fitness tracker? For some people a fitness tracker may be a good choice, while for others apps may be the way to go. Learn more about whether a tracker is right for you

  3. What do you want the app to do? Are you looking for something that allows you to track your workouts and calories, or just one or the other? There are apps that may be more of a “one-stop-shop,” where you can track a lot of information. Or, you may find that that you prefer the features of one app, and features from another.

  4. What are your habits? Are you the type who has your phone with you all the time, or do you frequently leave it at home or in the car? If you don’t carry your phone with you, an app that requires you to enter information frequently (like tracking calories) or that measures your steps may not be the best choice.

  5. Do you want to pay for it, or must it be free? Sounds like a no-brainer. Some may be a free download but then ask for a start-up fee or have ongoing fees in order to get access to certain features.

  6. Do you want to connect to a community? Some apps allow you to connect with an online community of support (note, this can sometimes be a source of extra fees).

  7. Do you want ongoing tracking? If you’re a “numbers geek”, then data about your progress relative to specific targets can help you stay the course.

  8. Do you want reminders? Apps will oftentimes provide you with “reminder tones” in order to engage with you selected program. This may be useful as you are instilling a new habit into your life.

  9. Do you want affirmation? Feedback about reaching a recommended goal can be empowering, and some apps will offer this feature in very entertaining ways.

These are but a few elements to consider. And, it can help to read user reviews of the app to see what others have experienced. Regardless of what it is you choose, you are the one who needs to be engaged. This may take some deeper reflection as to what your true needs are prior to making your selection(s). Remember, apps are something that should help you reach your goals, not frustrate you while you’re trying to accomplish them.

 

Suggested Apps

 

Here is a list of app categories that may be of interest to you. As you will find, there is variability in price, service and features. In fact, many features will overlap within and between categories. For example, the fitness category may have features relating both to physical activity and nutrition. Finally, an app may show as “free” but require a one-time, or ongoing, fee for an upgraded or premium service.

 

Tracking Fitness

  1. Fitocracy (Free on iTunes and Google Play)
  2. FitStar Personal Trainer (Free on iTunes)
  3. MapMyFitness ($2.99 on iTunes and up to $5.99/month on Google Play)

Weight Loss

 

  1. MyFitnessPal (Free on iTunes and Google Play)
  2. Amwell (Free on iTunes and Google Play)
  3. Diet Assistance (Free on iTunes and Google Play)

Couch to 5K/10K

  1. Couch to 5K ($2 on iTunes and Google Play)
  2. C25K (Free on iTunes and Google Play)
  3. Run (Free to $4 on iTunes)

Meditation

  1. Insight Timer (Free on iTunes and Google Play)
  2. Meditation Timer Pro (Free on iTunes and Google Play)
  3. Relax Melodies (Free on iTunes and Google Play)

 

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Date Published: 08/24/2015

News tag(s):  sportshealthy bodieswellnessfitness

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