Tracking your health: Yeah, there’s an app for that

Chances are, if you have a smartphone, you have access to an app that can do just about anything.

Whether you want to track your weight, your BMI, count your steps or your calories, workout in seven minutes or get from a couch to a 5K, you can find something to help you. But how you choose the app that’s right for you?

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9 tips choose health apps

Like a trip to the grocery stores, the number of choices can be overwhelming, and may even lead to the temptation to just forget about it. But, there is a lot of value to using an app to help you reach your fitness goals.

The challenge is that there is no “best” app for everyone, it all depends on what you’d like to do. But, there are some guidelines from University of Wisconsin Health that can help when browsing the latest apps in your smartphone’s application marketplace.

  1. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you looking to just get moving, track your calories throughout the day, manage your stress, train for a half-marathon? When you can be clear about your goals, it makes it easier to narrow down the choices of apps.
  2. Do you want an app or wearable fitness tracker? For some people a fitness tracker may be a good choice, while for others, apps may be the way to go. Learn more: Is a fitness tracker right for you?
  3. What do you want the app to do? Are you looking for something that allows you to track your workouts and calories, or just one or the other? There are apps that may be more of a “one-stop-shop,” where you can track a lot of information. Or, you may find that that you prefer the features of one app, and features from another.
  4. heart rate app screenWhat are your habits? Are you the type who has your phone with you all the time, or do you frequently leave it at home or in the car? If you don’t carry your phone with you, an app that requires you to enter information frequently (like tracking calories) or that measures your steps may not be the best choice.
  5. Do you want to pay for it, or must it be free? Sounds like a no-brainer. Some may be a free download initially, but then ask for a start-up fee or have ongoing fees in order to get access to certain features.
  6. Do you want to connect to a community? Some apps allow you to connect with an online community of support (note, this can sometimes be a source of extra fees).
  7. Do you want ongoing tracking? If you’re a “numbers geek,” then data about your progress relative to specific targets can help you stay the course.
  8. Do you want reminders? Apps will often provide you with “reminder tones” in order to engage with you selected program. This may be useful as you are instilling a new habit into your life.
  9. Do you want affirmation? Feedback about reaching a recommended goal can be empowering, and some apps will offer this feature in very entertaining ways.
Is your baby babbling on schedule?

These are but a few elements to consider.

Regardless of what it is you choose, you are the one who needs to be engaged. This may take some deeper reflection as to what your true needs are prior to making your selection(s). Of course, it can help to read user reviews of the app to see what others have experienced.

Remember, apps are something that should help you reach your goals, not frustrate you while you’re trying to accomplish them.

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