How your smartphone can look after your health – fitness apps and wellbeing tools for your mobile

From step counters to medicine reminders, your phone is one of your best weapons in the war against illness.

You might not think of your mobile phone as a great health-boosting device, but if used correctly, it can help you stave off illness and stay fit and active.

The organisers behind World Obsesity Day are calling on governments, health service providers, insurers and philanthropic groups to address the growing issue of obsesity, with predictions saying 2.7 billion adults worldwide will suffer from overweight and obesity by 2025. Here, we'll show you how your phone can help you avoid being one of the unfortunate ones.

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Monitor your activity

Google fit

Your phone can track your basic activity levels using its in-built sensors. Download apps like Google Fit or Apple Health and your phone will magically double as a pedometer, keeping count of how many steps you’ve taken in a day. That way, you can make sure you take the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

These apps can also record more strenuous activities, like running and cycling. By logging your details and seeing your improvement, you’ll have an extra incentive to get - and stay - active.

Set reminders and goals

Google Calendar

Other apps can give you a nudge when it’s time to exercise. Google’s Calendar app now includes the ability to set goals, like ‘Go swimming twice a week’. Set one, and it’ll suggest times for you to do said activity. That way, you’ve no excuses for being lazy.

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It also lets you set reminders, for example when it’s time to take your medicine. You can set these to repeat daily, weekly and monthly, so you won’t have to remember to set it yourself every time. Very handy.

Keep tabs on your heart rate

Heart rate screenshot

Various apps can also turn your phone into a heart rate monitor, and without the need for uncomfortable chest straps. Apps like Runtastic Heart Rate Monitor and Instant Heart Rate let you check up on your ticker by just placing your fingertip over the camera. Remember, a healthy heart rate is somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute when resting. The healthier you are, the lower it will be.

Become more aware of your moods

Mood Tracker

Wellness apps like MyMoodTracker allow you to monitor your moods, how they change, and pin down any factors that make you either happy or sad. That way, you can enjoy more of what lifts your mood, and less of what doesn’t. If only there was a way to get rid of the Monday morning commute.

Heal wounds

Smart Stitches

In the future, your phone could even help your wounds heal. A team at Tufts University in Massachusetts is developing ‘smart stitches’ that are equipped with sensors that monitor wounds as they heal. These would then send the information to your mobile phone to be read.

Snooze like a baby

Withings Aura

There are more and more apps that help you sleep better. By recording the conditions of your sleeping environment (like noise levels and temperature) and seeing which nights you sleep the best, they can help you fine-tune your bedroom to make it the perfect slumber palace.

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Smartphones can also sync with more sophisticated equipment like the Withings Aura to make sure you get a good night’s rest. And as any doctor will tell you, sleeping well is essential to living a healthy lifestyle.

Jump into a world of virtual reality gaming

Samsung Gear VR

With the rise of virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive comes a more interactive way of playing games. Instead of sitting down and using a controller, you have to stand and move around, making it a much more active experience. And your phone has a part to play.

Modern smartphones can slot into virtual reality headsets like Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard (which is much cheaper). Fire up a VR app, and you’re away. Getting healthy has never been so much fun.

Eat better

Calorie Counter

Our phones can also help us eat healthier. Apps like Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker are bursting with nutritional information so you can make the healthier choice when it comes to meal times and snacking. Once you see just what’s in it, that chocolate bar might not be so tempting after all…

Find a personal trainer

TruBe app - 2 people excercising

If you need some motivation to start exercising or advice finding the right workout for you then it might be worth considering a personal trainer. Whether you want one session or a series, TrueBe connects you to a network of personal trainers, in venues across London, at home or even in your office.

The app is simple to use. Just enter the time you are free and details about the type of exercise you want – be it Yoga, Pilates, Boxing, Kickboxing or Personal Training - then a select a trainer. All trainers are qualified and you can read reviews.

Sessions cost £50, or £140 for a bundle of four sessions. 

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