The best health, wellness, lifestyle and fitness apps
Apps for abs, apps to help apply, apps for apples… Most of us probably have apps on our home screens that we don’t ever use or even have the foggiest how they got there.
With a plethora available in 2022, we sift through the most popular to see what’s apt (sorry) in the health, wellbeing and fitness worlds.
Best for: Sleep hygiene
Let’s face it, we’re all curious. As much as we want an app that helps solve any sleep irregularity patterns – or indeed outright insomnia – we’re even more excited to know what goes “bump” in the night. While we’re in the land of nod, we want to know when we tossed, turned, yelled out and when our nasal systems resembled that of a chainsaw. Seriously though, this app has some solid science behind it and is designed to wake you up at your ultimate prime time – such as when your sleep is at its most shallow and thus avoiding grouchiness.
Best for: Pounding the pavements
Gone are the days of clicking a rusty old stopwatch and arguing who flashed by first. Seeing how many miles you’ve clocked up during your daily jog is of massive interest to the individual and it’s even better when you can record it automatically. From the marathon runner to the novice plodder, Strava provides all the stats and analysis that runners need – trackers, speed, distance and so on.
Continuing to be one of the most popular running and cycling apps, one of its main features is it can link together like-minded fitness fanatics via social media. There’s nothing like a bit of competition even during solo runs, comparing and ‘bantering’ with those who’ve pounded those same pavements. And then uploaded it. A good thing is this way, they don’t have to tell the rest of the world on their status updates…
Best for: Self therapy
Counselling has never been so in demand, but there simply aren’t enough qualified professionals to cope with the numbers needing help with their mental health – and besides, many of us are resistant to the therapist’s couch. This new app is such a big deal that it is looking quite probable that it will be rolled out by the NHS themselves.
The premise is that you talk to yourself for just 10 minutes a day, with prompts from the app, to unlock what is in your subconscious to help problem solving and relieve anxiety. In a pilot study, 70% of the those who talked to themselves for just 10 minutes a day over 10 days saw a meaningful positive change, moving from the ‘possible depression’ range to experiencing good to high mental wellbeing. And we cannot argue with that. It’s good to talk, eh?
Best for: Mixing up your workouts
Yes, there are many good exercise apps, but how many are likely to stop you from giving up on your resolutions after day 3? Personalised audio ones have a fair shout, no doubt. Intentions are all fine and well and admirable, but from time to time one needs extra motivation and an app such as this can be a reasonable substitute for a personal trainer at a tiny fraction of the cost.
Aaptiv comes with added-in music to suit whatever workout you’re indulging in, tracks your performance and recommends different routines and workouts based on questions, goals and availability. There are demonstration videos, for those ever so tricky stretches for which gym wall diagrams never suffice.
Best for: Meditation
Buddhist monks have been doing it for centuries, so there must be something in it and it can now be practiced by app. And of course, without the strict vows of silence and starving rituals you might find in a temple somewhere on the outskirts of Bangkok.
A popular award-winning app, Headspace has a host of celebrity endorsements. There’s a large catalogue of music, sounds, courses and even meditative story-telling sleepcasts.
It is easy to use and even for those who have never practiced meditation before, there are beginner courses. So good in fact, it is best not to stick it on while driving down the M6.
Best for: Staying safe when out walking
True, there’s enough walking apps to shake a stick at. However, is there actually one that does more than just record how many steps you took and how long you were rambling? There is, and it’s also much more than just stats. It’s as much for your wellbeing and safety.
Follo is a free app that allows you to plan your route and set your destination. So how is it health and safety conscious? It ‘checks in’ on you. Yes, it uses four safety settings, (non-movement, irregular direction, too fast or disconnection) to check in on you if something unusual happens while the app is activated. If you are unresponsive, the app triggers an automated message system to alert your pre-selected key contacts via SMS. Clever!
Best for: Self diagnosis
“Don’t Google it.” “Worst thing you can do.” “Go to the doctors”. We’ve all heard them, yet we all still can’t resist keying in a few symptoms to only wait in fear of our good friend Google throwing up the ‘C word’.
It’s not just the hypochondriacs amongst us, it could be the opposite – trying to adjust search terms to get to the point where you’re simply suffering from an ingrown toenail.
This app takes all this into account and provides worriers and complacent procrastinators with qualified answers. If you need extra help, you can pay for the added benefits of consultations.
Best For: Keeping your nutrition in check
Imagine your grandmother slaving away with a rolling pin, and then breaking off every so often to tap away at an iPhone while shaking her head at the newfangled idea she was being presented with.
Nutrition is a whole different ball game than in granny’s era. The science has moved up many a level. What hasn’t increased quite so much is the effort most are prepared to put in, checking labels for protein, carbs and fat content.
Lifesum has therefore created an app to make all this easier. This is an app which identifies goals, tracks the amount of water, fruit and veg consumed, creates meal plans and has over a thousand tasty easy recipes with the nutritional information one requires. There’s even a barcode scanner to make logging the items even easier
The interface is very user-friendly so it’s not surprising Lifesum and its award-winning app is gaining more and more traction.
Best for: Motivation – and treats
New Year’s resolutions are broken, on average, within the first week. Why? Because in terms of active habits that we vowed to pursue, we’re lazy sods, simple as that. In terms of giving things up, it’s the ‘won’t’ power that we lack, not ‘will’ power. However, what if there were incentives? An actual app that rewarded those who’ve managed to endure consecutive days without their cream cake or their well-earned vino. Well there is.
RewardDays is a bad habit tracker app that rewards ‘good behaviour’ by offering up various discounts, vouchers and more on quality healthy products to replace the bad ones. The brains behind it have teamed up with various partners to offer up these rewards too, which should be the perfect motivation. Reward yourself with the RewardDays app, which will reward you again.
Best for: Fitting in fitness
Not your typical workout or exercise app. It’s ok wanting to look like a footballer, swimmer or tennis player but most of us haven’t the motivation or the time, let’s be truthful about it. All these sporting super athletes are paid millions to be in shape. We aren’t.
Wakeout is designed for those who simply can’t get a routine together, be it because of time or money. With its four categories to plan a workout, it is designed to fit exercise around work, utilise the items around your home, pump iron outdoors or engage in activities whilst travelling. With demos aplenty, and decent feedback, it’s a must have app for the busy person.
Best for: Yoga for all
Walk around your local exercise emporium and inevitably you’ll walk past a see-through room with big glass windows and experience rows of leotard wearing Nijinsky types, all coordinated, all sweating. Any thoughts of ever joining these fine specimens are quashed under a sudden heap of low self-esteem. That, folks, is why the Glo app was invented.
One of the most popular yoga apps with a rich variety of videos, Glo offers yoga lessons at all levels, so it doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or a plumber with two left feet.
Special features involve the body filters, enabling specific parts to be targeted. And for those who still want the buzz, there’s also a live class option.
Best for: Life admin
Nope, not a misprint which is undoubtedly what everyone might think at first. In fact it couldn’t be further from the dance-crazed social media shenanigans.
This is arguably a more productive use of one’s time. A ‘kill two birds’ type application. Imagine a ‘to-do’ list combined with a habit tracking feature. Of course, this is 2022 which means gone are the days of leaking biros and sticky post-it-notes falling everywhere.
We like simple, and that’s the beauty of what is basically an advanced ‘task manager’. Organise your schedules at home or at work and get things done more efficiently.
Best for: Breathwork
Bringing hundreds of teachers, experts, and schools all together in this one platform, if you’ve always thought learning to breathe better would have a positive impact on your mental health, but didn’t know where to start, Breath Hub brings you all manner of different sessions to calm your mind and focus on different themes and purposes.