Friday, September 14, 2012
5 Great Health Apps You Should Download NowBy: Time.com
This week’s TIME cover story, “10 Ways Your Phone is Changing the World,” examines how mobile phones are changing the way we live our daily lives — from voting to shopping and participating in school. Mobile tech affects how we manage our health too, whether that means checking out our own X-ray on a doctor’s iPad during an appointment or, on a larger scale, being able track and contain diseases via text message in developing countries like Uganda.
For the individual consumer, it also means being able to keep yourself accountable for your own lifestyle choices, by using apps that can motivate and remind you to eat right, exercise, schedule doctor’s appointments and even get enough sleep. Following are our picks for the best apps for staying healthy.
Best App for Exercise: RunKeeper
Using your phone’s GPS, RunKeeper tracks runners’ time, distance, pace and calories burned. The app shows your running path on a virtual map and stores all your workout data, including from past sessions. Users also have access to a preloaded database of training and running routines and can design custom interval workouts, which they can follow via audio cues from the app that remind runners to pick up their pace. The app also lets runners listen to music while they work out, a strategy that’s been shown to increase running speed and endurance.
RunKeeper gets a vote approval from one of TIME’s own staffers, Liz Grover on our imaging desk, who is currently training for a half-marathon in the fall. Grover uses the app as part of her daily training program and says she syncs her stats to other online accounts so she can share her progress with Facebook and Twitter followers.
Best App for Healthy Eating: Fooducate
By simply scanning the barcode on packaged food items as you shop, you can glean all the key nutritional details without having to decipher a single label. Fooducate gives every food item a letter grade for health, from A to D, based on an algorithm developed by nutritionists and dietitians, which takes into account the nutritional density of each food. The program even considers ingredients and other nutrition label components that sometimes get lost in harried consumers’ processed-food analyses, such as preservatives, additives, high fructose corn syrup, food colorings, added sugar and serving sizes. Users can weigh the pros and cons of each product and compare them side-by-side to healthier options.
Best App for Snoozing: sleepcycle.com
How often does your alarm clock jolt you awake from the depths of slumber? A crappy wake-up can lead to fatigue and a cranky mood all day. Sleep Cycle promises to keep you from waking up on the wrong side of bed again. Using the iPhone’s accelerometer, the Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your movements as you sleep, gauging when you transition between light and deep sleep. The alarm clock will wake you when the phone determines you’re in your lightest sleep cycle during a preset 30-minute wake-up window. The app uses only about 30% of your iPhone’s battery at night, so there’s no need to keep it plugged in. You can also set your alarm to music to ensure you wake up with extra pep in your step.
Best App for Weight Loss: Lose It!
As the winner of the Surgeon General’s Healthy Apps Challenge, this app is ideal for anyone wanting to shed a few pounds. Lose It works like a personal trainer in your palm by recommending a calorie budget for the day and reminding you to record food intake and exercise — a proven weight loss strategy. Tracking foods is easy using the barcode product scanner. Users can also share their weight loss and fitness progress reports with friends via Facebook and Twitter.
Best App for Finding a Doctor: ZocDoc
New to a city and need a dermatologist stat? Booking a doctor or dentist appointment is now as easy as making a dinner reservation. ZocDoc lets you skim fellow users’ reviews of local health-care providers and browse through doctors based on expertise, location and insurance plans. Doctors also provide their availability so users can book appointments on the spot. Currently, the app includes doctors in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. with plans to expand nationally and abroad.
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