Fitness, Mindfulness and Healthy Eating – There’s an App for That
My love-hate relationship with my smartphone isn’t unique. There’s much to dislike about this addictive, time sucking, distracting device.
But as I pack for my summer travels I’m grateful for all that this light, small device contains. While I long for the times when being totally present and immersed was commonplace – young people, that sense of calmness movies depicting the previous century have about them was our real life back then: we’d read a book or study and nothing interrupted us – I’m appreciative for the incredible tools in my palm. Being away from the office, yoga classes and my books has never been easier. So what if we’re so GPS dependent, it’s so much easier to find our way.
There are so many great apps that can help with fitness, healthy eating and wellness! So before I move ahead I want to share one of my absolute favorites: All Trails.
I’d rather be outside than in a gym, I’d rather be outside in almost any weather, and nothing excites me as much as a trail. If you like the outdoors, if you like hiking, running or cycling with a view, and enjoy stepping on soft soil rather than on concrete and rubber this app will help you find the trails, pick the one that’s right for you, lead you exactly to the trailhead, and show you the way once on that trail. The user comments are helpful, and although there are paid versions, the free one covers pretty much everything you need whether you’re looking for places near home or in a faraway national park.
I reached out to wellness, fitness and nutrition professionals to ask about their go-to apps, and I loved their recommendations!
Calm and Headspace are, I think some of the most well known in this category, and fitness expert Michael Wood highly recommends them both (I concur). He also thinks that Welltory, an app that looks at stress and energy levels using heart rate variability, is fantastic.
Stop Breath Think helps slow down your breathing and thinking, and Licensed Clinical Psychologist Sweta Venkataramanan frequently recommends it to patients. “First, you check in on how you're feeling (on a rating of 1-5) both physically and emotionally. Then, you pick words that describe your current emotional state. Based on the words you've chosen, the app recommends guided meditations to help you return to baseline. For example, if you are currently feeling frustrated, angry, hopeless - the app might recommend a meditation focused on gratitude to increase positive feelings and reduce frustration,” Sweta adds.
Meditation Studio is a meditation app with a variety of guided (and unguided) meditations covering a broad span of topics from sleep and stress to traveling and relationships, and comes recommended by Fitness Instructor and Wellness Coach Andrea Levine. “The app also offers a variety of meditations within each category, allowing me to choose the instructor and duration that best suits my needs and preferences. The app tracks when you listen to which meditations, and allows you to set a reminder to start meditating. I use the app once per day to help keep me grounded, calm, and grateful. It's a simple way to help me develop the mindsets that help me feel my best self,” says Andrea.
Motivate App: Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer Jay Jackson loves it. “It's a video motivation app (kind of like a Spotify of Motivation) that I use to keep my clients’ mindset on track. Honestly, as a personal trainer the biggest struggle I face is getting people to stick to their goals and stay committed. I love the mix of motivational and practical content in a variety of categories so I am able to use this with my fitness clients as well as my yoga and mindfulness clients as well. Also, it gives a lot for free which is great,” he adds.
MyFitnessPal is a popular calorie counting app. Holistic Weight Loss and Life Coach Erin Wathen sends her clients to it so they can journal their portions, track their weight loss and share data with her. “There are also new health articles on a regular basis as well as recipes. I have been using it for years for my own health and it’s a great resource.”
Myplate: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Steven Mack likes this app because it allows him to track and enter food in a way that is a bit faster than MyFitnessPal. “Some of the units used in measuring food are more practical, dealing in grams and various servings. The overall user interface to me feels more friendly than MyFitnessPal. The one drawback of these apps is the same as any other, some of the user entered information can be inaccurate.”
Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen: Plant-Based Registered Dietitian Jennifer Mimkha refers clients to this app to help them hit their daily nutrition goals. “I love that it offers a checklist for each item they consume, as well as a percentage bar that shows them how each item helps them get closer to their daily goal. It offers recommended serving sizes in both metric and imperial units, as well as videos for tutorials on how to cook those foods.”
FitMenCook: This meal planning app is recommended frequently by Performance Enhancement Specialist Erika Lee. “I have zero personal relationship with this guy, but watching his brand grow over the last several years, watching him go through his own personal transformations, and personally using many of his recipes and this app for meal planning has been incredible! Kevin has delicious but simple meal plans that can be sorted by dietary preference, nutritional limitations (keto, vegetarian, etc.) and goals,” says Erika.
Basket: Freelance Writer Dara Klatt loves farmers markets when available, but when they’re not, she likes using Basket to get healthy food AND save money at the same time. “All you do is plug in your grocery list –blueberries, green juice, gluten-free crackers, hot sauce, Greek yogurt, wine etc. – put in favorite grocers, like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh, and the app tells you in real-time which one has the majority of your grocery list at the cheapest price.” Says Dara. “Creating the list the first time takes a few minutes, but after that, it's saved in the app and can be shared with family members. Basket motivates me to eat well, and save money well too. It can be inspiring to spend less on groceries, and more on fun activities or new active experiences, like a new Orange Theory class!”
Happy Cow: This is Vegan Food and Lifestyle Blogger Cadry Nelson’s must have. “Very often when I get to my hotel in a new city, it's the first thing I check. They list vegan options at restaurants around the globe. I can see what options are closest, and what is available within a taxi cab ride. Especially if I'm heading to a place that's not known for being vegan-friendly, this app is a must. I can quickly see who offers plant-based dishes, read reviews, and leave reviews of my own. It's built on users adding options in their own hometowns and while traveling. So I try to update with reviews to help others who may be visiting my area.”
Fitness and Training:
Aaptiv: Registered Dietitian Scott Keatley uses this workout/fitness app and recommends it to many clients. “Most of the workouts are excellent for me because I don't like to go to the gym and many are equipment free. The instructors are super positive and make even an hour and a half solo run enjoyable,” according to Scott.
7 Minute Workout: This is one of Travel and Food Blogger Rachelle Lucas’s favorites. “Since I'm always pressed for time, this is my favorite workout. It incorporates 12 moves in 7 minutes that get your heart rate up and keep muscles toned. I love that I can do this workout in my hotel room, and if I have time, add more sets to make it 14 or 21 minutes long.”
Nike Training Club App: Jonathan Yagel builds apps for a living, so he’s asked for recommendations often, and he’s a fan of this video-guided workout app. “It's so well done! Their videos are easy to follow and the variety of workouts are really helpful in allowing me to find something that fits both my energy-level and schedule. I particularly appreciate their no-equipment workouts, which I can do at home or in the office. They regularly release new videos, including several with pro-athletes and other celebrities (they have a series with Cristiano Ronaldo, for any soccer fans!), which helps to keep things interesting. And it's all free! Especially for the "I don't know what to do, when I go to the gym" crowd… NTC is a must-have.”
Achievement: Integrative Health Coach and Model Erica Larson likes this app for extra bonus for exercising. “This is just a fun app that you connect to other health tracking apps, and for every 10,000 points you earn (through tracking workouts, food, sleep, etc.) they pay you $10! A nice little additional incentive and motivation.”
Sweatcoin: Is another earn-while-you-burn app suggested by Howard Orloff, who is a huge fan of this motivational exercise app that pays you to walk/jog/bike outside.
Which apps do you turn to for your healthy lifestyle? Which have you deleted?
Wishing you a happy, healthy, active summer, Dr. Ayala
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Great article about new and old health apps! I can’t wait to check out Welltory more!