In this day in age, we have access to thousands of resources when it comes to our health. Having access to these apps is amazing, since many of these apps have the potential to change our lives for the better! But it can also feel overwhelming when we are trying to figure out which ones are best for us. So let’s talk about some of the best apps to download in 2022 for optimal physical and mental health.
Table of Contents
1. Insight Timer: Meditation and Mindfulness
Free version has everything you need, upgrade is optional for $60 a year
Meditation is becoming increasingly popular in recent years, especially when anxiety and depression are increasingly common all over the country. In a world with so much chaos going on around us it is very important to plant our feet somewhere and become aware of the present moment. Mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which can have many negative health effects on the body if you are in a chronic state of stress. Stress can play a part in chronic inflammation, headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. This is why it is very important to reduce stress as much as we possibly can to prevent these negative health outcomes and improve overall quality of life.
Apps such as Insight Timer are a great tool to create mindfulness and meditation habits. Insight Timer offers the largest, free selection of guided meditations. You have access to an incredibly wide range of people who guide you through their meditations. You will likely find your favorites and you can add them as favorites so that you don’t miss their new guided practices. This is one of the only meditation apps that is completely free, so be sure to take advantage of this tool for your health.
Meditating can have a wide range of health benefits, helping to:
- Reduce stress levels and healing chronic stress
- Manage anxiety and depression
- Lengthen attention span
- Reduce age-related memory loss
- Improve sleep quality
- Help to control addiction
- Have less pain
- Lower blood pressure
Start little by little, first with a 5 minute meditation per day. Then as you become more accustomed to a consistent meditation practice, increasing the daily amount when you feel comfortable.
2. MyFitnessPal: Calorie Tracking
Free for normal use, upgrade costs $9.99 a month or $49.99 for the year
You may have heard of MyFitnessPal in the past, or even downloaded it yourself. MyFitnessPal continues to be the best app for calorie tracking. It’s ease of use, huge food database, convenience, and useful features. It’s food database contains almost every food you could imagine, from the grocery store, to every restaurant you can think of with the full nutrition information. There is a scanner so you can conveniently scan in any foods with a barcode from the grocery store. You are able to set your calorie limit depending on your own personal goals and needs. And in order to save time, you can create and save your favorite meals and snacks so that you don’t have to re-enter them every time you eat them. You can also enter in your exercise in order to better calculate your calorie burn for the day. It is made for those who want to track their health, yet need to do so in an efficient and easy manner to maintain consistency.
The app in itself is not a weight loss program, but it is a great tool to combine with a weight loss program. Many doctors and dietitians recommend this tool in order to promote weight loss. One way to achieve successful weight loss is to combine MyFitnessPal use with a medically assisted weight loss program. A medically assisted weight loss program is run by board certified obesity medicine providers who provide you with a meal plan specific to your needs, coaching, and medication when necessary. The personalized meal plan and coaching given by the medical provider in combination with MyFitnessPal is an extremely effective way to achieve your weight loss goals. Check in your area to see if there is a medically assisted weight loss program offered near you in person or online through telemedicine.
3. Sleep Cycle: Sleep Quality
Free for normal use, upgrade costs $9.99 per month or $39.99 per year
We tend to underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to our health. There are short and long term consequences of poor sleep quality. Poor sleep quality and sleep problems are referred to as sleep disruptions. There are many factors that may cause sleep disruptions, including lifestyle and environmental factors, as well as sleep disorders and other medical conditions. Long term sleep consequences of individuals who are otherwise considered healthy include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabete
- Colorectal cancer
This is why it is extremely important to prioritize sleep quality. Sleep Cycle is an app to help track and improve sleep quality. It not only tracks your sleep quality, but knows how to detect your sleep cycles. You choose a 30 minute time frame in which you would like to be woken up. The app detects what sleep cycle you are in, and depending on that information, will wake you at the most ideal time where you will feel most rested. It will prevent you from waking up in your deepest sleep cycle, also known as your REM cycle. This is typically the reason we end up hitting the snooze button 5 times. We aren’t woken up at the ideal time for our bodies. The app will also track your movements and noises you make so that you can go back and see why you may be especially tired on certain days.
4. SWEAT: Exercise
The SWEAT app costs $19.99 a month or $119.96 a year.
There are an endless amount of exercise apps out there, but one that has maintained its prestige over the years is the SWEAT App. This app is great for beginner, intermediate and advanced level exercise. You receive a meal plan along with 8 different workout plans, and you can choose which one suits you depending on your personal fitness goals whether that is weight loss, muscle building, power, flexibility, post pregnancy, or something else.
The app is very user friendly for all ages, and has everything you need if you’re looking for a weight loss tool. It provides recipes with instructions, guided exercise plans with videos and timers for each exercise, which feels like having your own personal trainer right on your phone! This is very convenient for those who do not have easy access to a gym, have time constraints, or money constraints when it comes to hiring a trainer or going to fitness classes. It’s target audience is women, but there is not reason men can’t enjoy the benefits of this app as well. Another great thing about SWEAT is that you get an entire month of a free trial, which is much more than most fitness apps. You also gain access to the online SWEAT community which can help you feel a sense of support during your exercise journey.
5. Fooducate: Nutrition
Free for normal use, Pro version costs $4.99 for three months or $14.99 for the full year
Another health app to consider is the Fooducate app. The Fooducate app is similar to the MyFitnessPal app in the fact that you can track all of your foods. The unique part of Fooducate is that it evaluates the foods you eat and gives them a grade from A-D. This is very useful for those who are just starting their journey to better health, because it gives them a very simple way to measure whether a food is nutritious or not. You can either search for the food or use the barcode scanner to access the food grade and nutrition information.
The score depends on many factors that the algorithm of the application analyzes, but typicall minimally processed, highly nutritious foods will score A-B and highly processed or junk foods will rank C-D. For example, you may scan a package of wheat bread, which seems like it may be an “A” but it is given a “B” for the added sugars, salts, and preservatives. It explains to you the reasoning behind the food grades, which is extremely helpful and informative for those starting on their journey to better health. The Pro version is quite inexpensive, only $4.99 for 3 months and $14.99 for the year. With the Pro version, if you find a food is given a C or D, the app will recommend you alternative options that are similar to that food. You can also add gluten and allergen info feature for a slight price increase. Knowledge is power, and this app really gives you the power to make the right decisions for your body and health.
- Medic, Goran et al. “Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption.” Nature and science of sleep 9 151-161. 19 May. 2017, doi:10.2147/NSS.S134864