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How smartphone apps could help you manage your health

Is there anything that can’t be done through a smartphone app? There are apps for almost everything – from banking and gaming, to booking flightsandbuying cinema tickets. You can order takeaway food, a ride to the airport or lodge an insurance claim from anywhere in the world!

An increasingly popular category of apps is that dedicated to tracking and improving physical and mental health.  These range from the get-fit apps used to set fitness goals or create work-out regimes, through to apps geared towards alleviating stress and fighting depression. Chances are, if you want to make a change to your body or mind, there’s an app to help you get there.

Managing your physical health

Fitness apps are all the rage, whether people are following a health regime or just want to monitor their general well-being. These apps are often popular for a big reason – they cost a lot less than hiring a personal trainer.

The most common of these apps are fitness trackers. Users can log their workouts, either to supplement fitness programmes they’re already followingata local gym or to guide them through at-home workouts. Popular fitness trackers include Strava and Map My Run, which create maps of your run or bicycle rides.

Another popular category are calorie trackers. These apps are simple in premise – users choose a goal (such as lose 5 kilos in 15 weeks) and then enter their food and drink throughout the day. The app can help you stay on target, by alerting you when you’ve gone over your calorie allotment for the day. Many also include tips for healthy eating and recipes for added inspiration and motivation.

Tracking the body’s natural cycles

For many, tracking workouts and meals isn’t enough. They also want to log other data to help build a more complete picture of their personal health. If this sounds like you, then you may be interested in sleep and menstruation trackers.

Getting enough good-quality sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. There are several apps available to help people better understand their REM cycles. These apps often pair with a Fitbit or other fitness tracker to monitor sleep through your breathing and heart rate. If more interested in getting a good night’s sleep than looking at the data in the morning, then a white noise app may be worth a try.

Of course, sleep isn’t the only natural cycle you can track. Women are also downloading menstruation trackers to help monitor their fertility. Apps such as Clue can be used to input information on the first day of your period, temperature and mood. Taken together, this data can help women predict when to expect their next period or when they’re most likely to fall pregnant.

Protecting our mental health

Life is often busy, with so many big and little worries that can build up over time—finishing a work presentation, saving money for the kids’ university fees, finding the right funeral insurance—the stress of daily life can take its toll. There are now a vast array of apps available to help users manage their mental health.

Many offer simple practices for calming the mind and reducing stress. These include mindfulness and meditation apps like Calm, to apps like My Mood Tracker, which can help you identify anger or sadness triggers in your environment.

For larger mental health issues, there are also apps designed specifically to help people contact mental health professionals. These apps help remove barriers that often make it hard for people to seek treatment. For some it maybe because they are unable to leave their home or fear the stigma around seeking help. Others may find it difficult to afford counselling or face long wait times for an appointment. By contrast,apps such as Talkspacecan be downloaded and connect you with a licensed mental health professional in a matter of minutes and at a minimal cost, making it easier for people to access therapy when they need it.

Conclusion

Smartphone apps designed to address physical and mental health issues are a convenient and accessible way for people to help monitor their wellbeing. They offer users anonymity (if they want it) or the chance to share their progress with others. With society increasingly lookingfor digital solutions for just about everything, the popularity of health apps will likely continue to grow.

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