The rise in mobile technology has revolutionized how we monitor our health and stay active. Today, over 80% of Americans own a smartphone, and the growth of wearable fitness trackers like the Apple Watch and Fitbit have gained considerable momentum and are now used by 21% of people nationally. But with over 97,000 wellness apps available on mobile US app stores, we know it can be challenging to find the right one fitting your needs or know if they’re worth using.
So, can a smartphone or smartwatch app really help your overall exercise habits or improve your health and wellness? Keep reading to learn about the health advantages of downloadable apps and discover how to find one that works for you.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE A FITNESS OR HEALTH APP?
ACCESSIBLE & CONVENIENT
Smartphones, smartwatches and tablets have become ubiquitous in today’s tech-savvy world. They’ve also made health monitoring and training more convenient. Mobile apps now provide more support around improving our wellness by allowing us to track health and fitness achievements from anywhere. Additionally, they offer guidance on how to perform specific workouts and provide training regimes we can then follow from a mobile device. So, how many people actually use health apps? One study reported that 52% of US smartphone and smartwatch owners use their devices to collect health-related information or exercise regularly after having more accessibility to this kind of software.
EASY TO USE
Smartphone and smartwatch app developers try to focus on providing easy to understand and easy to navigate user interfaces to get you started quickly. How do you begin using a health or fitness app? The process is simple. By adding health information like your age, gender, weight, and inquiries about your various health goals, you can set up a profile relatively quick and painless that matches your needs after you’ve downloaded one.
Many fitness and health apps are available to download for free, making them an affordable way to invest in your health and wellness. However, some health apps are subscription-based, meaning you can download the app for free, but you may have to pay a monthly fee to access premium features.
Subscription-based fitness apps that include premium content like personal training, dieting tips and exercise videos have become quite common. Still, they are a solid deal compared to in-person instructors, as most online personal trainers only charge about $80 a month for web training sessions. However, we recommend finding the style that works for you, but regardless of which direction you take, downloading an app to your phone or smartwatch is a cost-effective way to start your journey towards improving your health.
93% of doctors believe that health-related apps actually have the potential to enhance your overall health. Arguably one of the best features of fitness and health apps is that they’re motivating. Many apps provide online communities, virtual challenges, and push notifications reminding the user to “Keep it up!” and that “You’re doing great!” Some apps also have the option to earn badges for accomplishing your goals.
The online community aspect that’s included in some smartwatch and smartphone apps has also shown to be particularly useful in driving people towards more success. They allow you to share your badges with your peers on your social media profiles or from your device, which may inspire or motivate your peers. This is called vicarious learning, which is a term describing when people learn a new behavior after being exposed to an inspiring action they saw someone else perform.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT HEALTH OR FITNESS APP
When perusing your mobile app store for fitness, health, and wellness apps, the number of offerings is astonishing. The easiest place to start is by choosing a few health areas you’d like an app to focus on and make a list. You can also narrow your search results down by finding apps developed around a specific need like diabetes, medication compliance or something else entirely.
Ask your friends and family what they use too. Ask them to tell you why they downloaded specific apps, what they’ve found the most useful, what the user experience is like, if they have any dislikes/challenges with the app, and any other questions you may have. When determining which smartphone or smartwatch apps you’ll want, do your research and read reviews. Couple that information with your recommendations, and you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right app that’s perfect for you.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HEALTH APPS
As you’ve likely seen, fitness and health apps run the gamut by offering different specializations and services. Below, we’ve outlined a few wellness areas you can focus on when searching for a tool that tracks and supports your well-being from a mobile device.
Smartwatches and sleep bands are great for personalized sleep tracking. These devices collect information on durations of deep sleep vs. restlessness, sleep start and end times, and more. Some sleep-related apps also remind you when you go to bed, when to wake up, and may provide tools to help you fall asleep, such as soothing nature sounds and white noise. Some of the best sleep apps for smartwatches include Noisli, Headspace, and Pzizz.
ACTIVITY & FITNESS TRACKING
Most smartphones and smartwatches offer GPS and accelerometers (which track your movement) and many apps are geared towards using this data to monitor and report back on activity and fitness goals. Couple your smartphone with a smartwatch or fitness tracker band to track your exercises and heart rate when your phone is not physically on you as well. Some of the best fitness apps for iPhone and Android include Sworkit, Couch to 5K and Nike Run Club.
Exercise and personal training apps offer a variety of exercise programs to help take the boredom out of workouts. Some apps like Sworkit provide pre-recorded workouts such as yoga or aerobics, while others connect you directly with a personal trainer and online community to develop a plan catered specifically to your fitness goals. Many of the apps available cost less than monthly gym fees and sessions with personal trainers and workouts can be performed from nearly anywhere. We recommend Jefit or Nike Training Club as starters.
Nutritional apps provide a simple way for users to track calorie intake, check ingredient labels, meal plan, and more. Some apps even assist with food allergy tracking and instilling healthy eating habits. The best nutrition apps for smartphones include MyFitnessPal, Fooducate and Yazio.
Meditation has been proven to help people decrease stress, reduce anxiety, improve sleep and generally aid in managing challenging situations. iOS and Google app stores offer a variety of meditation apps like Calm and Headspace that focus on these areas and aim to improve the user’s overall wellness.
BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS A HEALTHIER TOMORROW WITH NWPC
If you’re looking to get healthier, but don’t know where to start, Northwest Primary Care is here to support you. The expert practitioners at NWPC are happy to work with you in developing a plan that meets your health goals. Schedule an appointment and visit one of our Portland area clinics today!