Health & Fitness Apps: Helpful Tools or a Waste of Storage?

 

What with being constantly glued to our phone screens, it's no surprise that there's a whole host of different apps to help you with your health and fitness. Whether you want to know the calorie content of a chocolate bar or how many steps it takes you to walk to the library, the information is at our fingertips. There are apps that can help you track what you’re eating, give you workout ideas and even help with your sleep pattern - but are they actually useful, or just taking up much needed space on our phones?

MyFitnessPal

This free app is one of the most popular on the market having been rated the number one health and fitness app for four years running. It helps you gain, lose or maintain your weight by calculating how many calories you need in a day depending on your weight, height and activity levels. You then input the foods you eat throughout the day from a database of over 5 million products to keep track of the calories you eat up to this goal. But how useful is it? There’s no doubt that this app helps you be more mindful of what you’re eating; when you have to record everything you put in your mouth you’re far less likely to reach for that second or third biscuit which will certainly help with weight loss. It’s also very helpful at showing the percentage of carbohydrates, protein and fat you are getting each day, as it’s often difficult to tell just from looking. There are few negatives to this app, although I would say that one aspect where it falls down is to do with exercise. The app takes into account any cardio you do, but doesn’t record the amount of calories you would burn from strength training, which can be frustrating if that’s all you intend to do at the gym.

Nike+ Training Club

Nicknamed ‘your ultimate personal trainer’, Nike+ Training Club is the perfect app for those stuck in a workout rut. With over 100 different workouts adapted to different levels, accompanied by audio instructions and visual aids this app is great for helping you get in shape if you’re feeling lost at the gym. It's also free to use and many workouts don’t even require a gym membership, so there’s no excuse not to download it! There’s very little wrong with this free fitness app, although some users complain that the exercises cannot be modified and you can’t create your own workout by combining different exercises

Couch to 5K app

This is the perfect app for beginner runners wishing to get fit and healthy. The programme involves 20-30 minute runs, 3 times a week for 9 weeks, with the aim of running 5K. This app is great for first-timers and those interested in running, however, it should be noted that the only exercise involved is running, no other forms of cardio or strength training and depening on your goals, that may not be ideal.  

Sleep Cycle

Having trouble sleeping? Download this app, it will revolutionise your bedtime! The app works by monitoring your breathing patterns throughout the night to see when you are most awake and asleep, and then waking you in your lightest sleep within a certain window. This is perfect is you frequently find yourself waking up halfway through a dream, feeling groggy and only half-awake. The app also presents you with a graph showing when you were asleep and awake during the night, and measures your sleep quality as a percentage which can be equally fascinating and worrying - if, for example, you feel as though you’ve had a good night's sleep but Sleep Cycle is telling you otherwise, you might fall into the trap of over-thinking the fact you’re tired.