Most people make resolutions around the dawn of the New Year, intent on improving their health. Sadly, by the end of January, they’ve typically already fallen back into their old routines. It’s difficult to stay on task and take care of yourself, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. This is as good a month as any to kick-start a newfound initiative to improve your health or get back into your routine if you’ve fallen off the wagon.
With this selection of the best health apps, you can find the support you need to get on track, stay healthy, and become active for a long time to come. Hell, maybe you’ll even be able to keep it up — wouldn’t that be something?
You probably have no problem grinding out a video game to get your character to the next level. What if you could treat your own life like a character in World of Warcraft or any other lauded MMORPG? That’s exactly what Fitocracy does, putting you in a position to improve yourself by completing tasks and earning experience so you can level up in real life. The app offers a host of workout routines and expert advice, along with a robust community of like-minded individuals to keep you motivated.
Couch to 5K ($2)
Running is a great workout you can do just about anywhere, so long as there is a bit of ground to run on. The problem is getting motivated to do it. Couch to 5K is a proven method, one that will take you from running exactly zero feet a day to a 5k run in a matter of nine weeks — no experience necessary. The app allows you to track your progress and log your workout routines via four motivation coaches, each of which can feed you audio cues alongside your music to guide you through the tough times ahead.
Simply understanding what goes into your body is a huge part of improving your overall health. After all, if you don’t know the makeup of your food, you likely won’t know how to craft the diet that will best benefit you. Fooducate is a great way to look beyond just the calorie information and get a full understanding of every part of your food. Fooducate lets you track your food intake and scan product barcodes to see a personalized nutrition grade, meaning you’ll know exactly why you should choose the Honeycrisp apple over the Hershey’s.
It’s safe to say we could all use a little nudge to stay on track when it comes to healthy living. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Nudge provides by allowing you to connect with and challenge your friends. The app conveniently integrates with all your other health apps — such as those from Garmin and Withings, for instance — to generate an overall score for you based on your last 30 days of activity, which you can then compare with your friends and family while you work to improve your health. The manual logger is a nice touch, too.
Fitbit Coach (free/subscription)
Fitbit Coach is like having a personal trainer on your smartphone. The app uses your goals to deliver custom workout curriculums, programs, and other content, all driven by your body and health data. The app itself is free, but you’ll need to front up a monthly subscription fee of $8 per month or $40 per year. If you’re having trouble creating your own workout routines, we think it’s well worth the cost.
One of the biggest challenges that comes with healthy eating is the challenge of eating out. Most restaurants serve meals for pleasure, not for the health benefits. HealthyOut helps you spot the better options on the menu and makes meal modification suggestions, so you won’t fill up on all the bad stuff. It lets you scour your local area for restaurants offering healthy plates, whether you’re looking for a meal that falls within a specific calorie range or one that adheres to your dietary restrictions (vegetarian, Paleo aficionado, gluten-intolerant, etc.).
We’re told that the average number of calories we should eat in a day is roughly 2,000. That’s a very general goal, however. MyFitnessPal fine tunes your suggested calorie intake to meet your specific fitness goals, accounts for your workouts, and helps you manage your diet to stay on track each day. It also offers a database of more than 5 million foods, connects to most fitness apps, and features a built-in recipe importer that lets you pull and track any recipe from the web. Not even the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook can do that. MyFitnessPal also integrates with Apple’s HealthKit and Google Fit.
Carbs are a prevalent part of many different foods and, frankly can be tough to avoid. Cutting back on them is a great way to improve your overall diet, and in turn, make you feel healthier. CarbsCounter takes care of deciphering how many carbs are in each part of your meal and helps you temper your intake, automatically logging your nutritional details and providing you with a quick means for setting carb goals for every meal. Preset entry categories make recording that “morning coffee with creamer” even easier.
One of the easiest ways to improve your health is the simple act of drinking more water. It’s the healthiest and best beverage for you, and drinking it offers all sorts of benefits that will improve your overall health. The aptly-titled Waterlogged is designed to help you track of the amount of water you gulp down each day, whether you prefer to record your liquid intake using photos or basic metrics. The premium version of the app also lets you view maps and graphs of your recent progress, with an option for setting up extra reminders.
What you put in your body requires more thought that we probably give it. If you don’t want to do that thinking yourself, trust ShopWell to do it on your behalf. Scan the items that you’d normally buy at the grocery store and let ShopWell produce a list of healthy alternatives for you instead. The app incorporates your specific goals — to lower your cholesterol, for instance — while helping you avoid allergens such as gluten and lactose if need be. Sadly, sometimes you don’t want to know the detailed nutritional facts.