We all know the downside of technology when it comes to health. Spending every day sitting in front of a screen can make backs ache, waistlines expand, and attention spans shrink. So most of us need to limit our consumption of technology just like we have to watch our food intake.
But there’s also an emerging positive link between technology and health. Hundreds of smartphone apps and numerous gadgets exist—with more appearing all the time—to help you take control of your health and your weight. In fact, it’s never been easier to develop healthy habits and stick to them.
With so many health apps to choose from, it would be impossible to run through them all and choose one or two winners. Instead, I want to mention a few popular ones and encourage you to explore what’s right for you.
My Meal Mate
With this free app you choose a weight-loss target and then monitor what you eat and how much you exercise. Every week, you’ll get a text that lets you know how you’re doing in terms of reaching your goal. A study of this app by researchers at the University of Leeds found that over a six-month period, overweight participants who used My Meal Mate lost three times as much weight as those who monitored their progress on paper. Because this app was developed in England, many of the brands in the database are specific to the United Kingdom.
My Fitness Pal
This free app is similar to My Meal Mate and is one of the most popular weight loss apps in the U.S. It makes it very easy to track your daily exercise and caloric intake. It has about 1 million food items in its database, and at a glance you can see how many grams of carbs, protein, and fat each one contains. You can also easily add new items of your own.
This app works a lot like My Fitness Pal. Lose It has been a popular weight loss app for a while and many find it quite helpful. However, it costs money while My Fitness Pal and My Meal Mate are free.
This app isn’t focused on fitness or weight loss, but what it does is important. Fooducate can make you a better shopper by allowing you to enter barcodes of food items at the store and then receive a nutrition grade. When possible, it will give you suggestions for healthier alternatives. This can be an awesome tool for helping kids learn to make smarter food choices.
This app costs money, but it offers two great things when it comes to fitness. First, it gives you access to instructions—text, images, videos, and even a live trainer—for an amazing array of workouts. Second, it makes it phenomenally easy to track your workouts and chart your progress. Many people find this app incredibly motivating.
Okay, this isn’t an app at all. It’s actually a small gizmo you clip to your clothes that monitors how many steps you take daily. If you set a target number of steps and then use the Fitbit to let you know how you’re measuring up, you’ll probably find yourself stepping away from the cubicle more regularly. And your body will thank you. You can sync the Fitbit with your smartphone or computer to track your progress.
It’s All About Motivation
This is just a tiny sampling of what’s out there when it comes to health-related apps and gadgets. The point is that technology can become a motivating factor in your quest for optimum health.
With so much that’s free or inexpensive, you can try things out until you find what works best for you. And before you know it, you’ll be moving more, eating better, and making smarter choices.
Keep thinking big and living bold!