Four of the Best Health and Fitness Apps for 2017

We all love a good app. But does the old saying (that Apple actually trademarked) “there’s an app for that” – still apply today? Well it seems so, even though the average person may not keep as many apps on their phone as in previous years, they are still being downloaded in record number. About 75 percent of U.S. users download at least one app monthly while teenagers download 6.3 apps per month based on measured installs from 50 million Americans. According to analysis done in 2016 from the app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the App Store is expected to more than double its size over the next four years, reaching 5 million apps by the year 2020.

Here are what I consider to be the best apps for 2017. I look for an app that is free/low-cost, educational, intuitive in terms of use and can hopefully help myself and clients change mindset and create new habits. The following apps have done just that.

Welltory. This is a great app that helps you become aware and manage your stress and energy levels. It reminds me of another app that made my list, Headspace. I understand the importance of stress and energy but now I have a tool that can help me manage it. The app is free and you can upgrade to the Pro service for a small fee. “The idea is to work out the effect of how, for instance, morning meditation, working from home or a diet change might affect stress and energy levels. You then keep what works for you and discard what doesn’t” (TechCrunch).

Credit: http://welltory.com

2. Human Anatomy Atlas: Complete 3D Human Body. Personally, I can never seem to learn enough when it comes to human anatomy and physiology. Even after many undergrad/graduate level courses, I still find myself learning new things about the body – and now I’m able to do it right from my phone. This app typically costs $25 to download but now you can get it for only $1. This is an amazing 3D app, it feels like you’re in a human anatomy or cadaver course – seeing in amazement for the first time – the organs, nerves and actions of every muscle, bone etc. I enjoy picking one body part and learning something new and then have the ability to quiz myself. This is ideal for any type of student. My daughter is taking an EMT course and studying human anatomy in coming weeks and guess what app I recommended to her?

Credit: Human Anatomy Atlas

3.  Headpace. This is a mediation app develop and founded by Andy Puddicombe. You’ll love everything about this free app (also has upgrades for a cost) from how seamless it is to the look and feel. They refer to themselves as “bite-sized meditation for busy schedules” which in today’s fast-paced, over scheduled world – is quick enough to fit right in. There is a great deal of research coming out on the value of daily meditation on both mind and body. It’s worth your time to take a look and give it a try!

4. Myfitnesspal. It has been said that “you can’t manage it if you don’t measure it.” This free nutrition app, in addition to Welltory, does just that. It offers valuable insight and helps you monitor what you’re eating on a daily basis. It has some really cool features like the ability to take pictures of the barcode of any food and in turn instantly downloads the micro/macro-nutrient composition of the food. I love this app for helping me monitor my daily added sugar. You can upgrade to get more bells and whistles for a nominal fee.

Reference

Perez, S. (2016). App Store to reach 5 million apps by 2020, with games leading the way. Tech Crunch.

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Beware of Pokemon Go

In the era of the Internet and global information sharing, certain things become rapidly popular. As a matter of fact, they are popularized so fast on a global scale that having not heard of them can only mean you came from another planet yesterday. This is exactly the case with the “Pokemon Go” app, which has exploded in popularity.

There are two ways we can measure its popularity. The first one is app installation – according to the Digital Vision blog, Pokemon Go was installed on 5.16% of phones in the U.S. by July 8 (it was released on July 6), becoming more popular than Tinder (2.4% of phones). The other measure metric is the number of daily active users and about 60% of those who have installed the game on their phones open the app every day, which shows the game’s addictive nature.

Pokemon Go has managed to drive people outside in search for wheedles, zubats, rattatas, and pidgeys. They are enjoying the social aspect – getting outside, meeting new people, exploring, and gaining different experiences.

However, when something causes an instant mass craze, one cannot close one eye and stay blind to all the negative sides of a certain phenomenon.

Famous psychotherapist and psychiatrist, Carl Jung, said that “every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”

If we try to apply this principle to the year 2016, that is to the lives of us and our contemporaries and all the advanced technological aspects contained in them, we must ask ourselves: what are the downsides?

The game uses a map-like layout and augmented reality, so peoples’ safety is endangered due to the need for looking down at your phone. William Bratton, New York City Police Commissioner, commented that people are putting themselves at great risk because of the Pokemon Go craze. Two men were injured by falling off an ocean bluff, while some got robbed while walking the streets in pursue of Pokemons. A 15-year-old girl was hit by a car while playing the game which “took her across a major highway at 5 o’clock in the evening, which is rush hour.”

pokemon-go-onyx-hand
Photo Credit: http://www.uploadvr.com

Even though no games are 100% safe (people break their bones while skateboarding, snowboarding, and cycling), being injured in the street while seduced by the augmented reality of a smartphone game won’t teach anyone responsibility. If you still plan to go out and catch these little digital creatures, keep your head up more and wear reflective clothing tape at night so you don’t get hit by any speeding vehicle.

Also, there are two major security risks when it comes to installing the game on your smartphone or iPhone.

#1 – Pokemon Go users are required to use their Google credentials in order to log in. It was noted that the game and its developers have complete access to the users’ Google accounts once they log in, which makes the “privacy violation” bulb start blinking. This means (at least in theory) that Niantic, the firm that has developed the game, has complete access to all content within the Google accounts of their players (photos and videos stored in Google Photos, Google Drive based files and Gmail-based email), which is concerning. If you are using the app, be aware of the permission you give it when you install it.

#2 – Beware of malware-infected versions of the app. Because of its enormous popularity, hackers have already managed to post these infected game versions on file sharing services. After you install it, hackers are able to access your phone via a backdoor, allowing them to copy any data from your phone and use it to commit cybercrime.

The best recommendations we could give you regarding the Pokemon Go app are: keep your head up and stay safe, because no game is worth getting injured or losing your life over, stick with the known app stores and don’t download the app from file sharing services and unknown third party app providers.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and has spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for a better life. He is an all-around fitness adviser and his words are strong as an Australian Bull. He blogs at Ripped.me http://ripped.me/