Is the use of your smartphone damaging your health? Or have you already caught on to the numerous fitness apps available to you?
Our phones can either be a blessing or a curse.
It depends on how we choose to use them. When used correctly they can save us time, keep us safe, educate and entertain us.
When used incorrectly we may find ourselves absorbed into infinity pools. We may start to blur the lines between work and leisure time. We risk living inside our screens and battle to switch off.
This is not good for our health.
However, it is not all doom and gloom and I am by no means a Luddite. I firmly believe that smartphones can be manipulated to create healthier habits. We have the tools and technology, we just need to intentionally apply them.
We are taking a look at apps that can add to, and help you reach your health and wellness goals.
Apps that we don’t mind you getting addicted to.
Across the world, people are checking Instagram one last time before calling it a day. This usually lasts longer than anticipated as we get sucked down the rabbit hole of likes and fresh Instastories.
Not only do our smartphones provide us with stimulating content that keeps us up far longer than we would like but their screen lights also disrupt our sleep.
Besides protecting your sleep time by restricting phone usage before bed and turning off notifications, you can download the following apps to help optimise your shut-eye.
The Sleep Cycle app analyses your sleep and provides feedback to help you sleep better. The alarm clock will wake you during your “perfect wake up window” so you wake up feeling rested.
You may recognise one or two of these well-known voices – Stephan Fry and Matthew McConaughey being two of them.
Cost: free for some features; subscription is R249. 99.
Put that scrolling to good use and flick through the multitude of workouts that you can find on any one of the various fitness apps available to you.
We have apps and devices that can track our activity, set reminders for us to move, provide training plans for marathons, teach us yoga – there is something out there for anyone and everyone.
There are numerous running ups to choose from but what we liked the most about Nike+ Run Club was the free training plans.
There are five to 21-kilometer options as well as a general fitness training program that links through to the Nike Training Club app workouts.
The app also uses your data from each run you log to adjust your selected plan for you.
This is one of the most downloaded apps with 36 million users in over 160 countries.
Using just your body weight, this app is perfect for those who do not have access to the gym. Workouts range between ten and 30 minutes long and are easily adaptable for your fitness levels, goals and schedule.
Cost: Free for Feeletics LITE
Whether you are a newbie or seasoned Yogi this app puts your daily practice in your pocket.
The app has over 500 asanas, 200+ guided yoga classes, pilates, meditation, and 50+ workout plans.
Step by step instructions is provided for each of the three intensity options. It also has a ‘Beginner to Master’, ‘Getting Toned’, ‘Mindfulness Every day’ and ‘Health Enhancer’ series which includes a set of class plans and singles to help you achieve your goal.
Cost: R190 per month
Distracted eating can lead to weight gain. So one of the best things you can do for mindful eating is to put your smartphone down.
The second thing you could do for your health is to log and track your food. Often we find that no matter how much exercise we do we just cannot shift the weight.
Perhaps it is what and how much you are eating? Tools like MyFitness Pal help us determine how much we eat during the day and often our “healthy” eating plan isn’t so healthy after all.
Recipe apps can also get our creative juices flowing in the kitchen and make us less likely to eat out.
Myfitness Pal is one of the most well known and widely used food tracking apps.
The app logs and racks your food gives you the calorie breakdown and lets you know how much you have allocated for the day. Your daily allocation is set by using your weight and weight loss goals.
This fitness app has a wide database of food and includes meals from popular restaurants and brands. It also features a barcode scanner and recipe importer.
Cost: Free for basics and R140 per month for premium.
Yummly app suggests recipes based on your eating preferences. This ranges from low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free or even ketogenic.
There are over two million recipes which the app pulls from other top apps such as Allrecipes, Epicurious and Food52.
This smart app continues to learn about your food preferences after you have inputted your various allergies or diet preferences.
And if you ever find yourself staring at ingredients wondering what to cook you know have the option to input your ingredients you have in hand and it will find corresponding recipes.
Our final two apps will help you clear your head and work on your mental wellness.
Instead of the constant buzz of WhatsApp, email or text message notifications, take some time to zoom out and clear your head.
Headspace eases you into a meditation practice with a ten-session beginners course that helps you get familiar and comfortable with meditation.
You can select how long you would like your session to be with the shortest being three minutes.
There are a variety of different stand-alone meditations and 30-day courses that you can select, should you have the paid-for version.
Cost: Free basics course, subscription R180 per month.
Five minutes of reflection at the end of each day can do wonders for the mind. This apps takes away the need for pen and paper and puts your journal on your smartphone.
The questions and writing prompts are easy to answer and the no-frills timeline makes the looking back on past entries easy.
There are daily quotes for you to mull over and to inspire you as well as weekly challenges and reminders to prompt you to write in your journal.
There are certainly ways that you can get technology to work for you instead of against you. Gives one or two of these fitness apps a try and see if you can put that smartphone to better use.