Top Health Apps to Try

Using your smartphone can be good for your health. It can help you learn how to choose more nutritious foods, lose weight, tone up, avoid gluten, evade food allergies, and help you find a doctor in your area. The right app can make it easier for you to do all of this and more from the comfort of your phone.

Here are five of the best health apps to explore:

1. Fooducate

This health app takes the guesswork out of grocery shopping, allowing you to make more nutritious food choices without having to waste time combing through lots of ingredient labels. Use this health app on your phone to scan in the barcode on packaged items and the app will grade the food from A to D on its overall health value. The grade takes into account the amount of sugar, preservatives, and additives the items contain, as well as portion size and caloric intake—allowing you to compare different items and narrow in on the best choices.

A general version is available for free for the iPhone and Android, and a diabetes version is free for the iPhone. There's also a premium ad-free iPhone version for $3.99 and an iPhone version designed for people with gluten and other food allergies for $4.99.

2. RunKeeper

It picks up where your high school track coach left off, motivating you to improve your fitness level. Use this health and fitness app, which relies on your smartphone's GPS function, to map out a running strategy, build your endurance, and monitor your progress. It can clock your pace, distance, and calorie expenditure. Save your results so you can track your fitness progress. Follow the programmed routes in the app, or design your own interval training routine to challenge yourself. Use this for hiking, biking, and walking too. The app also allows you to listen to music while you train and connect you with others to motivate them and share your progress.

Available for free for the iPhone and Android.

3. My Fitness Pal

Gain access to a vibrant fitness and weight loss community right from the convenience of your smartphone. Track your calories every day with less effort with this health and fitness app. It can remember your favorite meals and make it quick and easy for you to log them right into your food diary. It also customizes the best weight loss plan for your lifestyle and preferences. Log in your activities to find out how many calories you've burned. Use the forums to get tips, encouragement, and motivation from other users. For instance, post a question like, "What's a good low-sugar breakfast?" Then find out what others suggest. By staying connected, it can be easier, and more rewarding, to stick to your goals.

Available for free for the iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.

4. Daily Challenge

Make small steps every day that will have a big impact on your life with this app. Once you register, you'll receive daily emails challenging you to incorporate basic but meaningful actions into your routine such as stretching your ankles, pumping your arms, or dedicating two minutes a day to a thorough tooth brushing. The app makes it easy to track your progress, earn points and rewards, and unlock bigger challenges. It also provides a forum to exchange ideas and advice with other users and motivate them to try similar actions.

Individuals can take advantage of the free version of this app, while employers and health plans can benefit from a premium (paid) option. Available for the iPhone and Android.

5. ZocDoc

Use this one-stop shopping approach to find a well-recommended doctor or dentist in your area. Search the directory by city, specialty, and insurance type. Then read reviews from other patients to find medical professionals who seem like a good match. Once you select a practitioner you like, simply pull up their appointment book right in the app and schedule your own appointment. This eliminates the need to waste time calling multiple doctors on the phone and makes it more convenient to take better control of your health.

Available for free for the iPhone and Android.



Sources: "United States Surgeon General's Health Apps Challenge: Daily Challenge." N.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.

Times Mobile Tech Special Issue. "5 Great Health Apps You Should Download Now." 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.