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3/6/2014
10:46 AM
Alison Diana
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15 Apps For Healthy Living

A well-equipped smartphone and a little will power can help you stay healthy. Consider these diagnostic and fitness apps.
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This year, 54.1 million Americans are expected to sign up for gym and fitness club memberships. They spent almost $26 billion on these programs in 2013. By comparison, last year there were approximately 100,000 healthcare apps -- many of them free or inexpensive, according to BI Intelligence. Of these, the top 10 generate 4 million free and 300,000 paid downloads each day and will produce sales of $20 billion or more by 2018.

Even as gym memberships increase, more Americans use smartphones and tablets to get fit and stay healthy, using apps to monitor and enhance their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

In addition to helping you shed pounds, apps can tell you more about what you're eating. Using apps like MyFitnessPal or Livestrong's MyPlate, you can check out ingredients, count fat and calories, and find healthier alternatives to prepackaged or restaurant options. These tools also have begun to alter what we see on store shelves and restaurant menus. Consider, for example, the recent campaign against Subway's use of azodicarbonamide, and Chick-fil-A's plan to remove Yellow #5, TBHQ (a chemical made from butane) and reduce sodium, among others.

Convenient access to information lets you easily and privately access and tailor exercise programs and routines as well. Devices like Fitbit, Moov, Jawbone Up, and FuelBand, along with apps such as RunKeeper and MapMyFitness let runners, walkers, and cyclists monitor their progress, compete with friends on social networks, and brag about their accomplishments. Other apps add financial incentives, letting you raise money for charity or bet on your own ability to meet self-made goals.

Some app makers contend that inexpensive access to health-focused tools may also reduce overall healthcare costs, by improving awareness, and encouraging people to seek care early, when illnesses are easier and less costly to treat. Apps including iTriage and HealthTap empower users to ask questions about their symptoms, a feature that could reduce the strain on local medical providers. While developers caution against using software as a replacement for a physician's advice, many sites feature testimonials from users who became aware of medical problems through an app.

You also must consider each app's privacy policy. Many -- but not all -- apps include simple statements about how they use collected data. Before providing an app with daily insight into your dietary, exercise, sleep, and medical habits and history, make sure you fully understand and agree with its policy for using, storing, and sharing this information. If you don't, find a competing app. After all, it's your body -- and your data. Now dig into our collection of interesting health and fitness apps.

Alison Diana has written about technology and business for more than 20 years. She was editor, contributors, at Internet Evolution; editor-in-chief of 21st Century IT; and managing editor, sections, at CRN. She has also written for eWeek, Baseline Magazine, Redmond Channel ... View Full Bio

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WilliamG967
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WilliamG967,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/5/2014 | 11:47:25 AM
100-YR Health Management Plan where's the app?
To my entreprenuerial advantage, no one has thought to deploy a health app UI based on daily (or more frequent) total body skin (hair and nail) imaging collected simulatenously with whole-body surface scanning, preferably naked. Such imaging and scanning equipment is not affordable for the average Walmart shopper yet but it will be in a decade or sooner if I have any success. The software engineering to automatically bring the scans and images of the UI alive (realtime interaction with your digital double) with machine learning of near continous tracking and monitoring of whole-body and part position and posture for a revolutionary UX is the grand challenge. Processing power, programming languages, storage devices, and networking (MBAN, PAN, LAN) are not worries but design parameters for the mobile platforms today to render graphics and acoustics of human biotelemetry and health data archives for goal setting, healthcare planning and health analyses. I believe the solution to the health apps' high attrition rates will be an international standard for the whole-body, true-color surface with hair and nails binded to a skeleton that can derive joint position and motion from a panoly of sensors and qualitative behaviors (e.g., operation of man-made objects). Once this hurdle is cleared, all the health literacy/education content, that's not quantified, can smartly be delivered to users with precision and timeliness. 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 4:36:42 PM
Re: Android
Totally with you there! Whenever I ask app developers about their future plans, they're often writing first for iOS, with Android soon after (or vice versa) and a Windows version is quite often on the agenda within six months or so. Blackberry rarely, if ever, comes up these days.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 4:27:04 PM
Re: Android
You're welcome Alison. I'd also like to thank you for writing a great and useful article.

Windows versions? Blackberry?
I'm sure Windows versions will come soon. Blackberry? I don't believe it'll hapen.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 9:22:33 AM
Re: Android
Thanks for the Android apps, @mak63. I wonder how many developers are creating Windows versions? Blackberry?
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2014 | 11:53:26 PM
Android
I see some apps don't have Android equivalents, but some do. Here are a few that I found and I use.

SleepCycle Sleep as Android

Vision Test 2.0 Vision Test

Hearing Test Hearing Test
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/8/2014 | 9:31:50 AM
Re: May get a few of these
Agreed. The temptation with these apps is to share everything... but just because there's a "share to Facebook/Twitter" option doesn't mean you need to use it! Some stuff is better kept private.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
3/7/2014 | 12:22:44 PM
Re: May get a few of these
Agree! Some friends post their weight losses and that's getting to be a bit much. If they add their pulses (how many times a day would they do that!), it would border on the obsessive! However, these apps are a great tool if you're coping with a high or low pulse rate or need to monitor your heartbeat for some other reason. Just don't share the results!
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
3/7/2014 | 12:20:20 PM
Re: Good and bad?
The sleep one interested me, too -- although I don't really need an app to tell me I don't sleep well!
NJ Mike
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NJ Mike,
User Rank: Strategist
3/7/2014 | 10:47:51 AM
May get a few of these
Some of these apps look very interesting, but when people start posting their pulses on Facebook, I think we've gone too far.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/6/2014 | 9:17:10 PM
Re: apps for healthy living
Sign me up, too!
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