11 Ways I’m Using My Smartphone to Stay Healthy

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I hate to admit this, especially on the Internet, but I was absurdly late to the smartphone bandwagon. I was still thinking I was pretty snazzy with my flip phone when everyone else had moved to touch screens. I thought I’d really discovered something when I got a text-message plan. That was around the time everyone else was emailing and app-ing and taking stunning photos with a phone that was half the size of mine and did twice as much.

But I finally joined the 21st century a year or two ago and haven’t looked back since.

Now I’m less than proud to say I feel a little lost and like something’s missing when my phone isn’t in my hand. Even when there’s no ding or buzz alerting me of a message or update, I get pathetic satisfaction from clicking the home button, lighting up the screen just in case I missed a notification.

Truly though, aside from the jokes (and hefty monthly bill), I find my phone to be one of the most useful pieces of technology I own. This is coming from someone that has a panic attack with the simple thought of answering a ringing phone. It’s not just the ability to text 10 friends at the same time or send an e-mail without waiting for my computer to load or even being able to look up directions to the nearest park after I’ve left the house. It’s the ability this tiny device has to make an impact on so many areas of my life, including my ability to stay healthy. It sounds ridiculous but it’s completely and utterly true.

I use my phone (the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone) to keep track of my family’s health records, to motivate myself to get out of bed and hit the gym when it’s the last thing I want to do, to help me fall asleep, and to help me pick the healthiest foods at the grocery store. It’s my connection to a community that shares my love of fitness and it’s my go-to source for new recipes and meal ideas. It’s a journal of my health and wellness and a daily reminder that my health is in my hands.

If you’re not already using your smartphone to maximize your health, especially during this crazy holiday season, here are 11 ways you can do just that.

 

  • Healthy Technology 1 of 12
    smartphone healthy

    From apps to tools to online communities, your smartphone can be an invaluable resource for staying healthy.

  • Meditation 2 of 12
    photo (2)

    Whether it's sleeping at night or just taking a few minutes to relax, it can be tough to tell your brain to shut up or to tune out the chatter of an ever-present toddler. Using a white noise or calming sounds app can help you get the rest and relaxation you need to tackle the rest of your day. 

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Schedule Workouts 3 of 12
    photo (1)

    I'm really, really good about scheduling meetings, doctors appointments, and school closings in my calendar. I'm not so good about scheduling things for just myself, like workouts. I use Workout Scheduler on my Windows Phone to do just that - not only can you carve out some time for a daily sweat session, you can put in the exact workout you plan to do. That way once you get to the gym there's no wasted time decided what to do that day.

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Sports Community 4 of 12
    endomondo

    It's one thing being able to keep track of your mileage, speed, and other workout details. It's another to be able to share them with others (who are actually interested) and being able to get and give feedback on your workout. Sometimes it's nice to get a little pat on the back for a tough workout, even if it is from a stranger. P

    lus I have to admit, opening up a social-fitness app like Endomondo or DailyMile online while I'm lying on the couch and seeing a list of my friends who have run 16 miles or swam 2,000 yards makes me feel pretty inclined to get up off my butt and log my own workout. It's a great way to find training buddies, too!

  • Daily Activity 5 of 12
    bike

    It's really easy to trick yourself into thinking you're in good shape because you hit the gym everyday, but what about all of those other hours in the day? You sit at a computer desk, lie on the couch watching TV at night, sit in a meeting or in the car ... All of that sedentary time makes a dent in your daily activity levels. Using a device like a FitBit or Jawbone Up lets you get an accurate picture of just how much you're moving (or sleeping) all day long. I love checking in on my FitBit app to see how I'm doing throughout the day. I hate to "lose," so if I see my steps aren't up to the count they should be, I'm more likely to head out on an extra walk before crashing for the day.

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Energy Tracker 6 of 12
    health-tracker

    Perhaps my favorite energy-diet-fitness-sleep tracker of all time, Juice puts a fun spin on keeping track of all the many aspects that go into keeping you in tip top shape. you can rate your daily energy level, enter what you've eaten, record a workout, and log your zzzs. Looking at everything in one glance really gives you a good picture of what areas of health you need to improve on. Awareness is half the battle when it comes to diet and exercise, especially during the holidays when we have a million other things on our minds.

  • Toothbrush Timer 7 of 12
    photo

    Do you know you're supposed to brush your teeth for something like two minutes? That's a long time when you're just standing at the sink staring at your weary reflection in the mirror. This teeth-brushing app doesn't let you get away with shorting yourself when it comes to keeping your pearly whites clean. It's not just about keeping your smile pretty either - keeping your gums in good shape is important for heart health, too! I'll admit, I've used this app for getting my toddler to wash his hands long enough, too. 

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Alcohol Meter 8 of 12
    sangria

    Eggnog, hard cider, hot buttered rum, and spiked peppermint chocolate - there are simply too many delicious alcoholic beverages floating around during the winter season and so many good holiday reasons to partake in drinking them. The problem is, once you start drinking, it's hard to know when to call it quits. The Alcometer app is the next best thing to a pocket-sized breathalyzer; as long as you're honest when you enter your information into your phone. By entering your weight, gender, the amount of food in your stomach, and how much alcohol you've consumed you can keep tabs on just how impaired you might be. 

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Training Program 9 of 12
    pushups

    Wouldn't it be nice to be able to afford a personal trainer to kick your butt and prescribe your workout every day for six weeks and beyond? Yeah, I think so. But since that's not a reality for me, the 6 Week Training app is a good backup plan. This app tells me how many push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc., I need to perform each day in order to meet my goals. It might not yell at me the same way a trainer would, but it's still a visual way to get motivated and see whether or not you're on track to meet your goals. 

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Seven-Minute Workout 10 of 12
    workout

    I promise you I've heard (and given) every single excuse in the book for why I'm skipping a workout. 99.9 percent of those excuses involve some variation of not having enough time or needing to use that time to get something else done. It's really easy to write off a workout, but it's so important to every aspect of your health that getting in some exercise, even if only a little, is vital. The Seven-Minute Workout does just that. If you can't find a mere seven minutes in your day for something as important as your health, maybe it's time to re-prioritize. (I'm telling that to myself right now...)

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Check Heart Rate 11 of 12
    heart-rate-tracker

    Gone are the days of staring at the clock and holding your fingers to your neck to check your pulse. Now you can use your smartphone to measure your heart rate. Knowing your heart rate can come in handy for keeping track of how many calories you're really burning or figuring out how hard you're working during your exercise session.

  • Health Records 12 of 12
    health-vault

    I have enough floating around in my head without trying to keep track of all of my family's health stats. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in the doctor's office drawing a blank on the name of the medication that gave my son hives last time he took it. Kind of important, don't you think? The Microsoft Health Vault app for Windows Phone lets me keep all of those important details out of my brain and in my phone instead. I can keep track of our latest vitals and labs, allergies, medications, and different doctors. Anything that lets me not have to remember one more thing wins in my book.

 

Photo credits: WindowsPhone.com unless otherwise indicated.

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