Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat—you know all about the big-name apps that help you connect with your loved ones and share your favorite photos and videos. But what about the apps that help you improve your health?
According to a recent study, participants who used fitness apps were much more active compared to nonusers and even had a lower body mass index. The study’s authors believe apps help people overcome barriers like a lack of understanding or organization, which leads to better exercise habits. Over time, these improved habits can mean big changes. From fitness trackers to calorie counters to free guided meditations, here are five of the best health + fitness apps on the market:
1. Couch to 5K: If you’ve wanted to try running, but never know where to start, Couch to 5K should be the next app you download. The free eight-week program gives users three workouts per week that get you ready for your local Turkey Trot or Fourth of July road race.
2. My Fitness Pal: There’s a reason MyFitnessPal continues to dominate the health and fitness app landscape after 13 long years on the market. The app’s database contains more than 6 million foods, so you can log just about everything you put in your body from Starbucks coffees and energy bars to homemade veggie lasagna thanks to a nifty recipe calculator. You can also set exercise and diet goals as well as tap into myfitnesspal.com’s vast online community for support, tips, and motivation.
3. Waterlogged: When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, hydration is huge. That’s where this personalized water intake monitor comes in. Take photos of your preferred drinking vessels—bottles, cups, mugs, champagne flutes, Big Gulps, whatever—check in when you finish a glass, and it automatically keeps tabs on your hydration levels throughout the day. Progress graphs, wearable tech integration, and push notifications will show you how close you are to completing your daily goal.
4. Headspace: Optimal health requires more than just logging 45 minutes at the gym. “Many scientific studies have demonstrated how beneficial meditation is for our health. The Headspace app is a winner as far as bringing the practice of meditation to the masses” according to Chirag Shah, MD. Look out for improved mental acuity, patience, productivity and sleep with daily use.”
5. SleepCycle: Sleep plays a crucial role in good health throughout life. If you don’t get enough sleep every night, your body will have a hard time healing and repairing heart and blood vessels, balancing your hormones, and maintaining your blood sugar levels. Sleep Cycle tracks your quality of sleep, as well as your sleeping heart rate. But its most unique feature is that it wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase in the morning, making you feel well-rested and ready to tackle the day.