Do you have a favourite health or fitness app? Or are you looking for a good one? And what makes a good app just that, a good app?
As a health writer and a nurse, I see many related apps and not all of them are worth their cost - in my opinion. Sometimes even the free ones aren't worth the time it takes to download them. But there are many great ones, so here are five of the ones that I like tell people about.
I like Runkeeper. It's actually new to me. I only began using it in May, but I like so many of its functions that I became a fan quite quickly.
I have it on my iPhone, but it also has a website where it keeps track of your information. You can add anything you want in terms of your goals, the types of activity you do (ranges from cycling to swimming, even an elliptical workout). You can connect it with social media accounts and if you upgrade (19.99 per year), you can do more things, like compete with friends or family members.
The GPS on it is pretty good, telling you how far you've gone and it breaks it down by mile or kilometre. If you're cycling or running outside, it can even show you elevations, if you have hills to navigate.
The one thing that I don't find works is the calorie calculations. They are way, way off. But that's ok. I'm not exercising for calories, but this might be an issue if you are.
I didn't call this "dieting" because to me, "diet" is a dirty word in terms of weight loss. We all follow diets of some sort. Some of us have to follow a diabetic diet, others low cholesterol diets. Most of us follow just our own diets, but to diet for weight loss - that's not a good idea. Why? Because most people seem to automatically equate the word "diet" with deprivation.
If you do need to eat a more healthy diet or if you do need to lose weight, the best thing to do is to keep track of what you're eating and see if you are eating too many items that aren't the best for you. In my mind, cutting these out is not a road to success. You are eating these higher calorie or processed foods for a reason and cutting them out completely can drive you right back to it. But what about just cutting back? Love that bag of chips? Buy a smaller bag and only have one ever few days instead of every day. Love sugar in your coffee? Try gradually reducing it from two spoons to one and a half, to one... you get the idea.
Many people who are trying to improve their eating habits or lose weight like to use apps and a popular one is MyFitnessPal, but since I've covered my favourite fitness app, I'd like to tell you about Nutrition Menu.
In our often-hectic world, it may seem difficult to take time out to relax and take time for ourselves. And sometimes people who do have time just can't figure out how to do it. While everyone is different and not all techniques work for each person, many people do have success using an app to help guide them through the medication process.
I have not tried an app for meditation. I have listened to recordings of various types. Someone told me about the Mindfulness app, which I will probably try.
What seems to be appealing about this app is that you can be guided by voice or in silence, and a bell will tell you when the time is up. You can set the app to remind you that it's time to take a break - something that may be the best part of this app for some people.
Did I really write "handwashing" for an app? Yes I did. Washing your hands is the most efficient way to prevent the spread of infection. Many of the illnesses and infections that are passed from person to person are passed through contact. Someone who is ill has the virus or bacteria on their hands, they touch someone else and pass it on. Or, as can happen with a virus like the flu, someone has the virus on their hands (after coughing or sneezing, for example), the touch something like a door knob, someone else touches it and now that second person has been in contact with the virus.
You would think that healthcare professionals are the best at hand washing, but not all are. Whether it's lack of time, resources, or who knows what, many people aren't washing their hands often enough and/or properly.
I've not used the app called iScrub, I have to admit, but from what I read it seems like a good idea. A few years ago, as part of my role in infection control in a long-term care facility, I had to do a hand washing audit. That meant I had to observe how often and how well the staff were washing their hands. it was a lot of work and, sadly, it showed that hand washing compliance was not good at all.
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) wrote about the iScrub app and they think it's a good idea.
"iScrub is designed to replace clipboards and paper and allows observers to record hand hygiene behavior. The iPhone application helps decrease the time it takes to feed rates back to healthcare workers. It also standardizes reporting, avoids data entry errors, and makes it more fun to record observations."
This last one isn't really health related, but if I tell you it reduces the kick in the pants I used to give myself when I couldn't place a song I heard, maybe we can stretch the app to fit the category.
I love Shazam.
Have you ever been somewhere when you've heard a song playing that you love but you don't know what it is? Shazam can tell you and it can even find the song on iTunes (if it's there) and download it for you if you want.
When you hear the song, start your app and tap it. The app "listens" to the music and then identifies the song and the performer. The only downside is this will not work for live music - it has to be recorded. Using this app, you can add to your playlists songs that you've heard so often but never knew what they were called.
And there you have it. My five app recommendations. What are your favourite apps?