Better Health in Your Pocket

Smartphones and wearable technology make tracking your health easier than ever before.


iphone-health-shutterstock_382874251For many of us, our mobile devices have surpassed the designation of tool and become an extension of ourselves. The frequency of times we check our smartphones can often be measured in seconds rather than minutes or hours. There are many smartphone applications and smartphone compatible devices that work with our tendency to be connected all the time and use it to help improve our health.

Diet and fitness apps such as MyFitnessPal and Sworkit can assist with keeping track of what you’re putting in your body and how much (or how little) you are moving. Want to get in shape and have a strong competitive drive? Try out DietBet, which rewards you monetarily through fitness challenges with other people. Another exercise app, Charity Miles, appeals to the philanthropist by rewarding the charity of your choice when you log miles.

Activity trackers are wearable technology devices that keep track of how much you move as well as other statistics such as heart rate, sleep quality and exercise sessions. These devices are separate from a smartphone but often link with an app to track data. They are made by companies such as FitBit, Garmin, Jawbone and Polar.

If you’re needing a little more encouragement to strive toward your fitness goals, consider goal-setting apps. The Couch to 5K app can take a user from a sedentary lifestyle to the ability to run a race. Need even more personalized encouragement? Check out FitStar or PEAR, which provide personal trainers in a phone.

There are other devices that can be synced with smartphones that can help you monitor vital signs. Whether you need to monitor your heart, blood pressure or your weight, your phone can help you out. Technology company iHealth makes a wireless blood pressure monitoring cuff that syncs to your phone via Bluetooth. Many activity trackers also record heart rate, but AliveCor makes a mobile EKG that uses two electrodes to record heart rhythms. And if you’re looking to record body measurements, including weight, Withings makes an electronic scale that will sync to an app on your smartphone.

Although sometimes our phones can be an excuse not to get off the coach, they can also help us track data that will ultimately help us stay healthier. They are like many tools that can, when used correctly, make us better, happier and stronger.