Smartphones get a bad rap these days. So many people are seemingly addicted to their screens, and many health experts say that smartphones encourage sedentary lifestyles and other unhealthy habits. But a smartphone can be a powerful tool to help you achieve health goals if you use it properly.
Try these tips for using your smartphone to help you stay on track and build healthy habits:
Exercise apps are available for all ages and fitness levels. Apps may track your steps walked or the speed of a run. Some may give you reminders to get to the gym or challenge friends. You can even do a couch to 5k program with the help of a smartphone app. Fitness apps may be more effective than you think: one study showed that people who use fitness apps are more likely to exercise and have better health overall.
Track what you’re eating
If you’re looking for an easy and paperless way to keep a food journal, many apps are great tools for this. They allow you to easily tap to add foods and drinks, scan barcodes on food items, or take photos of your meals. A food journal may be just what you need to build better eating habits. There are also apps available for specific diet plans, such as counting macros or paleo. Some offer extra encouragement and coaching for those who prefer some extra motivation and a mental boost.
Kick stress to the curb
Chronic stress harms your health, so use your phone to help manage it. Relaxation and stress relief apps can guide you through meditation or deep breathing exercises to promote calm in your day. You can also use apps that play soothing music or nature sounds. A number of yoga apps can also guide you through your own private session if you don’t have time to go to a class.
Get better sleep
Many apps can track your sleep quality and duration by detecting movements throughout the night. They can tell you when you tend to toss and turn and when you woke up with minimal work on your end. Some also provide white noise to help you fall asleep. Sleep is about much more than feeling rested: it’s an important part of overall health and weight loss.
Choosing a health app is no small task with the hundreds of options available today. Before you pay money for an app, read through their reviews and do some online searching to ensure it’s reliable and credible. You can also ask health-minded friends or your doctor for recommendations.
Avoid unhealthy smartphone habits
Health apps are only beneficial, however, if you avoid some of these common pitfalls with smartphone use:
- Surfing on your phone before bed. The blue light from smartphones, tablets, and computers can suppress melatonin, an important hormone that induces sleep. Your sleep quality and quantity will suffer. Stop using your smartphone and other devices about two hours before bed if possible.
- Checking your phone compulsively. Comparing yourself to those you see on social media may be harmful to your emotional health — and can hurt your self-esteem and health goals.
Do you need help reaching your health goals? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized weight-loss programs that fit your lifestyle and health goals. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on August 13, 2018