How to Use Your Smart Phone to Improve Your Health

Three Methods:Using Your Smartphone to Eat BetterUsing Your Smartphone to Promote Physical FitnessUsing Your Smartphone to Help With General Health

Everywhere you go, people are glued to their cell phones. Studies have shown that people’s dependence on their cell phones contribute to obesity and other health-related problems. However, there are plenty of ways to use your smartphone to improve your health. Knowing how to use your smartphone to improve your health can make a healthier you easier than ever.

Method 1
Using Your Smartphone to Eat Better

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    Track your daily food intake. One of the easiest ways to improve your health with a smartphone is to track your daily food intake. Writing down what you eat helps you identify unhealthy eating habits, become aware of your daily nutritional intake, and makes you accountable for what you eat. Many apps, such as MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary, will allow you to input foods you eat. The app will compile a daily total of calories, fat, carbs, sugar, protein, and other nutrients.[1]
    • Many of these apps allow you to input weight loss goals. By giving the app your current weight, goal weight, and number of pounds you want to lose a week, the app will provide you with a daily calorie goal to lose weight.
    • Most apps let you input food from a searchable database, scan barcodes on food packages, and input nutritional information manually.
    • There are many apps available for free for both Apple and Android devices.
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    Try a recipe app. Recipe apps can be helpful when trying to make healthier food options for your family. Apps, like Yummly, offer numerous recipes that can help you achieve your fitness goals. They let you search by type of food, like Italian, Asian, or Mexican, or by main ingredient. Some apps will also allow you to choose gluten-free, paleo, healthy, quick, or low-carb options.
    • Some of these apps give you an option to build a grocery list you can consult when you go shopping.
    • You can also find apps specifically geared towards your health concerns. There are apps for healthy diabetes recipes, vegetarian and vegan recipes, and low carb or sugar recipes.
    • Many apps are available for free for Android and Apple.
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    Find healthier food alternatives. When you are shopping, your smartphone can help you make better food choices. You can search online for suggestions to make healthy alternative or to find similar foods with less calories and fat or without certain ingredients.[2]
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    Look up restaurant food nutritional information. Smartphones are not only great for apps. Smartphones also give you access to the internet, which can come in handy when you are trying to eat healthy. Most restaurants disclose the nutritional information of their item menus online. This is useful when you are tracking your calories or just trying to make healthy options.
    • Just search for the restaurant’s name and the words “nutritional information” to find calorie, fat, sugar, carbs, and cholesterol content.
    • Browsing restaurant nutrition information can be an eye opening experience. Many so-called “healthy” food options, such as salads, have more fat and calories than other menu items because of dressings and toppings. You can also compare similar item menus, choosing one that has significantly less fat and calories.
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    Send yourself reminders. Everyone needs extra motivation. Your smartphone can provide that motivation for you. Set up your phone so you get daily texts or calendar reminders of your healthy eating goals. These reminders can have a motivational message, a visualization of your weight loss progress, or even just a message to eat more fruits and vegetables.[3]
    • For example, your text might say, “Making healthy choices today means you are one step closer to a healthier you!”
    • Another text might say, “You can do it! 1500 calories of yummy, healthy food. How awesome is that?”
    • You might remind yourself of your goals: “Three weeks, three pounds down! Look at how great you are!”
    • Your message could be something simple like, “Make healthy choices!” or “Don’t get fries when you go to lunch with the office” or “Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies.”

Method 2
Using Your Smartphone to Promote Physical Fitness

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    Use an exercise app. Who needs the gym when you have access to exercise apps? Some exercise apps even offer workouts for you to choose from. You can find exercise apps for ab workouts, arm workouts, leg workouts, or overall body toning. There are apps that will build cardio routines for you, or a cardio and strength training workout.[4] Apps such as Nike+ Training Club, 8fit, 30 Day Fit Challenges, and Total Fitness are only a few apps that give you workouts delivered straight to your phone.
    • Many of these apps are free for Android and Apple phones.
    • If you want to download exercises specific to a certain body area, just search for that keyword, like abs, arms, or glutes.
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    Track your activity. Exercise apps are easy ways to track the amount of exercise you get and the calories you burn. Some apps track your movements via GPS, heart rate monitors, or other device. Apps such as MapMyRun or MapMyCycle track your exercise routine via GPS. Apps like FitBit, Moves, Argus, S Health, Google Fit, and other pedometer apps track your daily steps, helping you hit the goal of 10,000 steps per day. By tracking your daily activity, you can set goals for yourself, increase your daily activity, and track your patterns.[5]
    • Some apps combine tracking activity with tracking calories. MyFitnessPal and S Health, for example, allow you to input calories and exercise activity.
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    Make an exercise playlist. Music is a great motivator for a workout. When you go to the gym, for a walk, or for a run, take your smartphone and a pair of headphones along. You can use iTunes, Spotify, or 8tracks to make your own exercise playlist, or browse for other people’s workout lists. You can also listen to Pandora or IHeartRadio for streaming music.[6]
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    Track your heart rate. If you have a heart condition, you can use your smartphone to track your heart rate. A heart rate app can let you keep an eye on your heart rate when you’re exercising, and then check it while you’re at rest. Many of these apps check heart rate by having you place the tip of your index finger on the camera lense for a few seconds.[7]
    • Some heart rate monitors are connected to external devices you purchase separately and link with your smartphone.
    • Many heart rate monitor apps are available for free and without the need for additional devices for both Apple and Android phones.
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    Get a fitness tracker. Fitness trackers are popular devices to track your daily activity. These tracker can be connected to smartphones. Fitbits come in many different varieties, while Garmin and other brands also offer products that range from clip ons to watches.[8] By hooking your fitness tracker to your smartphone, you can track your activity and fitness level, set fitness goals for yourself, and hold yourself accountable for physical activity.
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    Try a diabetes management app. If you have diabetes, an app might be able to help you manage your condition. Popular apps include Track 3 Diabetes Planner, Glucose Buddy, and OnTrack Diabetes. Many of these apps allow you to track glucose, weight, activity, and carbohydrates. They also allow you to track your medications. Some may even offer an insulin calculator.[9] Using an app to help with your diabetes can make living with your condition even easier.
    • These apps range from free to $5.99 for both Android and Apple devices.
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    Store your medical information. You can store all your emergency medical alert information on apps. These apps, such as Health, MyID, or iMedAlert, store various medical information. Information you can add includes medical conditions, allergies, medications, emergency contacts, and even special care requests like DNRs. Some of the apps have QRT codes EMTs can scan to access your medical information, while others have an “emergency” option on the locked home screen.[10]

Method 3
Using Your Smartphone to Help With General Health

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    Adopt good habits. You can use your cell phone to start making new healthy habits for yourself. The University of Indiana has a free app called My Healthy Habits that includes a list of healthy habits you can choose and work over a three week period. These habits can be eating healthier meals, getting a better night’s sleep, drinking more water, or being more active.[11]
    • You can also download apps to help keep yourself positive as you achieve your goals. Apps like stickK allow you to set goals for yourself, and get support and encouragement from others so you can stay positive and achieve them.[12]
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    Leave yourself positive messages. Whether you are trying to lose weight, be healthier, overcome depression, or reduce stress, sending yourself positive messages can help. Whether it’s just an affirmation, such as “I can do this!”, or something encouraging, like “Smile, it’s another beautiful day,” sending yourself positive messages can help. You can set up a calendar reminder so they pop up at the same time every day, or keep a list of affirmations in a note on your phone.
    • Try Happier. This app’s only purpose is to keep you positive and lift your mood.[13]
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    Promote healthier sleep patterns. Your smartphone can help you get better sleep at night. Apps like SleepCycle for iOs, Sleep as Android for Android, Sleepbot, Sleep Pillow, among others, can help you get a better night’s rest. Some of these apps track you while you sleep, tracking your movements, sleep stages, and sleep history over multiple nights. They also help wake you up at the optimal time. [14]
    • Other apps provide soothing sounds, such as streams or rainfall, to help you sleep better.
    • You should stop using electronics, such as smartphones, an hour or two prior to sleep.[15]
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    Try a meditation app. Everyone can use extra help with stress relief. Smartphones can help you with mental health, not just physical health. Try apps like Headspace and Calm. These apps lead you through guided meditation exercises so you can relax on your time in the comfort of your own home.[16][17]

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Categories: Smartphones