Live Healthier With These 3 Apps
Apps for a Healthier Lifestyle 02:14
Tech gets a bad rap for making us sedentary, distracted and isolated, but I’ve made it my personal mission to find apps that can help me feel better, be healthier and breathe deeper. In this episode of Smart, Simple, Solved, I uncover three apps that do all of the above. If you can stay out of your Inbox and away from the Angry Birds long enough to download them, you might be on your way to digital wellness too.
First, we tackle the seemingly harmless beauty products on your counter. Have you ever tried to read the ingredients label? It’s basically in a foreign language. When the font is that small you KNOW they’re hiding some not-so-good-for-you stuff in there, but how can you tell which stuff is the bad stuff? The Think Dirty app does the hard work for you: Just scan the bar code and learn about all the harmful preservatives and harsh chemicals that lurk inside. It will even recommend cleaner versions of what you’ve scanned, so you can slowly improve your beauty regime.
Next time you’re in the beauty aisle, you can use this app to barcode-scan the items you’re thinking of buying. You’ll get an instant read on how healthy (or gunky) the ingredient list is, plus a list of safer alternatives.
An app from clean-living non-profit Environmental Working Group. Search 80,000 food products to find out, on a scale of one to 10, how healthy or unhealthy that tasty-looking snack really is.
This Environmental Working Group app offers a cheat sheet, listing which 12 conventionally grown fruits and veggies contain the most pesticides (steer clear!), and which 15 contain the least (save a few bucks and skip the organic produce without sacrificing your health).
Check, please. Next time you’re deciding which fish to order, check this app to find out which varieties contain the fewest contaminants, do the least environmental damage, and aren’t being overfished. A green/yellow/red color code system makes clear which seafood to enjoy and which to avoid.
Low in calories doesn’t always equal good for your body. Fooducate is a fitness and weight loss app focused on nutritionally dense foods — a barcode scanner reveals which items are truly healthy, and which are packing unhealthy levels of sugar, fats or additives.
Created by a professor of environmental and labor policy and overseen by an expert in chemical risk assessment, this app offers health, environmental and social impact ratings on more than 200,000 food items and household products, from shampoos to clothing lines.
This app, based on a decade of research by writer Bill Statham, specializes in decoding those hard-to-pronounce chemicals on your food label or beauty product bottle, explaining which are safe and which aren’t.
From Jawbone, makers of the UP fitness tracker, UP Coffee tracks your caffeine intake and sleep patterns, so you can figure out if you’re overdoing it… or if you’re one of the rare few who can sip espresso and still sleep like a baby.
Next up, because life can wreak havoc on your mind, I’m looking to create healthier thoughts. Headspace is an app that can teach anyone (yes, even you) to meditate. Just read that as sneaking a little relaxation into your day. 10 minutes, in fact. It’s not hard, and it’s not new age-y. Each day you get a recorded guide through breathing deeply, slowing your heart rate and bringing awareness to the right now. Huge health benefits ensue.
This sleep tracker system not only communicates with an app to chart your sleep stages, but actually helps you fall asleep in the first place. The under-the-mattress sensor and bedside device combo include music and colored lights to help you drift off.
Could that sluggish feeling be caused by unseen toxins in your air or meals? These thumb drive-style sensors can measure atmospheric EMF, humidity, radiation … and whether your produce contains pesticides (just poke a Lapka into your food).
Other fitness trackers count steps and calories. But this one adds a piece that can make you look ten pounds slimmer in an instant: posture. The wearable button vibrates when you slouch, reminding you to straighten up.
No matter how healthy your body is, if you’re wracked with anxiety or overwhelmed by life, you won’t feel very good. This free app offers meditation training to help align your mind with your fit form.
Why numb your gray matter by playing hours of ordinary games, when you could be honing that cerebellum by playing games developed by a neuroscientist? Train your brain with more than 40 games, and you may improve your memory, processing speed, creativity and more.
In the interest of simplifying fitness, the Human app encourages you to aim for just 30 minutes of activity per day — no 10,000 steps or calorie counting. It employs your phone’s internal sensors to record your movement, and recognizes whether you’re walking, running or biking.
Simple as it seems, breathing well is an art. When we get anxious, we breathe quickly and shallowly, leading to poor focus and a state of overwhelm. This tracker specializes in following your breathing patterns, and sends you in-app reminders to take a deep breath before you realize you need it.
Aria Smart Scale
Created by fitness tracker company Fitbit, this Wi-Fi-enabled scale can help you track your gains and losses via app. Just log on to see your progress, and win digital badges when you meet your goals. Of course, Aria also communicates with the Fitbit band.
So you’ve been out of sorts all day, but can’t find a minute to call a doctor, let alone spend the afternoon in a waiting room. Place this (soon-to-come) scanner on your forehead, and it will be able to give you a read on your vitals at any given moment. It can also reveal why that mega cheeseburger really isn’t good for you.
Lastly, having a doctor on-hand can mean the difference between treating an illness and having it get worse. Yet, unless you’re married to an MD, it’s hard to get a professional opinion (especially in the middle of the night, on the weekend, or on Super Bowl Sunday … yes, this is exactly when I need medical attention). With the LiveHealth app, the doctor comes to you via a video chat on your iPad, your smartphone or computer. Now you can show him that weird rash you have on your elbow, or take your child’s temperature and ask him to evaluate her symptoms, all without leaving home. Now instead of the time and cost of a doctor’s appointment, you can make an APP-pointment … see what I did there?
I’m on my way to deeper breathing, cleaner products and all my questions answered. Whoo, feeling healthier already!