Healthy Apps – Vince Little

Nowadays if you look in the app store on your phone or device there are thousands of apps in the health and activity sections. What are all these fitness and activity apps for, what do they do and why should you check out these apps on your device?

For some of us, like myself, we spend most of our day at a desk sitting for at least 7 hours a day. I was much more active in high school and college than I am today. I remember being active in sports such as hockey and soccer when I was younger. At that time there were no apps or smartphones!

Over the years the daily grind of going to work or school, eating, sleeping and spending some free watching TV or playing video games became a ritual. The ritual has resulted in less time spent being active and healthy and more time doing fun things. A few months ago I started looking into health apps and looking to technology to help motivate me to become more active and live a healthier lifestyle.

I began with a simple goal of going for a walk. How can I use an app to motivate me to walk? I was able to find an excellent application called “Runtastic”. On newer smart phones with GPS you can track exactly where you walk, the distances and durations and even keep a photo log of the trail you’re walking along. The beauty of this app is it will sync with other apps and includes a large number of activities, not just walking. The data is also stored on the cloud so fear not should something bad happen to your phone! Social integration also allows you to post that 5 mile run you just did to your Facebook wall if you so choose.

The next step for me was the gym. I benched pressed a few times in high school but past that I had never set foot in a gym. I couldn’t afford a personal trainer but I could afford a 5 dollar app so I did some online research and found an app called “Jefit”. The app shows you how to do various exercises in the gym and use the various machines. Jefit has a bit of a learning curve but no one said going to the gym was going to be easy right? The app taught me how to exercise the various muscles in my body. I even used the app to learn how to stretch. The best part of the app, however, is the ability to track your weights, reps and exercise routine at the gym. You can see when you break your own records which can be very motivating as you progress.

Part of being healthy is not only being active but putting the right food into your body. There’s about half a million food apps out there and everyone has their opinion about what is good to eat and what is not. I started simple by wanting to know how much to eat and what nutrients I should have. I found an app call “My Fitness Pal”. The app lets you enter your food information and all the nutritional information as well as set goals for yourself. Notifications on your phone can help remind you where you’re at for the day for calorie and nutritional goals. My Fitness Pal also has a large database of food information so most nutritional information can be easily searched and entered into your daily log just by putting in the item name, such as Kraft Dinner!

Wearable smart watches and activity trackers are becoming more and more common now. I’ve taken my activity and health tracking to the next level by using a device called a “Fitbit Charge HR”. The Charge HR is a wrist worn activity tracker. The device monitors your heart rate, tracks your sleep, steps and can provide other useful information. The app is used to sync the device’s collected information to your smartphone via Bluetooth. It has excellent social networking tools to allow you to challenge your friends to see who can reach goals such as the most steps in a week. It also contains a food database and has normal watch functions including alarms. The app also helps motivate you by completion of badges or achievements. For instance if you reach 10,000 steps a day for a week, you will be rewarded with a badge which your friends will be able to see.

Combining various applications and syncing them together can help you see an overall picture of your health and activity levels as well as provide excellent motivation in the forms of goals and achievements that can be completed through the various apps. If you’re looking for some motivation try out an app and see how these apps can make that gym grind or 30 minute walk a much more interesting experience.


Vince Little
NOC Team Lead

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