Heath apps can help keep you physically fit, but that doesn’t even begin to tap this technology’s potential for encouraging your entire body, mind, and spirit to thrive. If you’ve been craving some creative new ways to care for every aspect of your well-being, here are 10 unique health apps we’re really excited about.
There’s nothing like going for a good run with the wind in your face—and the Charity Miles app is going to make you want to run even more often. That’s because this amazing free app makes a donation to the charity of your choice for every mile you log.
After downloading Charity Miles, simply create your account and select your favorite charitable organization. Track your miles through your phone’s internal pedometer and GPS, or connect with Strava—and on iPhones you can also synch with Apple Health. If all else fails, you can even input miles manually through the Charity Miles honor system.
But it gets even better. If you’re not a runner, lots of other types of healthy movement qualify—including biking, dancing, and walking. And while corporate sponsors donate automatically for each mile you log, you can also get friends and family to provide additional sponsorship.
There’s a huge list of participating charities to choose from, so you’re sure to find a cause that sparks your passion. What a wonderful way to stay fit and make a real difference in the world without spending a penny!
Getting enough vitamin D is essential for keeping your immune system, bones, and teeth in top shape, and the good news is that moderate sun exposure triggers your body to make this important nutrient all by itself.1,2,3 But the amount of available sun varies by geographical location, the seasons, weather conditions, and time of day—and the amount of vitamin D each person needs is influenced by multiple factors. It can get complicated.
Dminder Pro takes the guesswork out of helping your body manufacture the vitamin D it needs. This app considers factors that affect sun absorption like age, weight, skin tone, and the amount of skin exposed—as well as any vitamin D supplements you’re already taking. Dminder also takes your location, current weather conditions, and how much time you’re spending outside into account as it guides you to get just the right amount of sun exposure to reach your target and avoid sunburn.
There’s no disputing the incredible health benefits of meditation, but sometimes we all need a little inspiration and guidance to keep us coming back to the cushion. Whether you’re a seasoned meditator or brand new to mindfulness practice, odds are you’ll find what you’re looking for within Insight Timer’s vast collection of over 40,000 free meditations that include every religious and spiritual tradition as well as well-researched secular science. There’s also a customizable timer feature that lets you practice independently with your choice of background sounds and interval bells.
During a time when so many of us are feeling isolated, Insight Timer also encourages a sense of community, since you can see how many other members are meditating with you in real time. With so much to offer and no cost whatsoever, this meditation app is one of the best ways to keep your practice strong and growing.
Did you know that your body is made up of about 60% water by weight? And it turns out your brain is even wetter—coming in at about 73% water. That’s why staying hydrated is so critical for maintaining physical, mental, and cognitive health.4,5
When you’re busy or stressed it’s easy to forget to drink water, and that’s where Waterlogged comes in. Just download the app, snap pictures of your favorite bottles and glasses, and enter the amount of water you drink. Waterlogged then tracks your water consumption by the day, week, or year so you can make sure you’re staying hydrated. You can even sign up for reminders so you’ll never forget when it’s time to tip back a glass.
The way a good night’s sleep makes everything feel fresh and new again is almost magical—and the latest science confirms the fact that consistent good quality sleep is essential for microbial wellness and overall health.6,7,8,9,10
If you’ve been tossing and turning at night, or just not feeling rested when you wake, SleepScore can help get you back on track. Connecting with your smartphone’s microphone and speaker, SleepScore’s premium option tracks and measures your breathing rate and body movements to generate a detailed analysis of your sleep experience.
You’ll discover the time it takes you to fall asleep, how long you stay asleep, and how much time you spend in the light, deep, and REM stages of slumber. The app then creates an initial sleep score and delivers customized recommendations to improve your sleep quality as you track your progress over time. Rest assured that SleepScore never records or shares your personal sleep data.
If you’ve begun to travel again, the last thing you need is to have your long-awaited trip spoiled by jet lag. A rapid change of time zones can easily wreak havoc on your circadian rhythms, but the Timeshifter app smooths this transition by creating a three-day schedule to help you adjust more smoothly.
Timeshifter was designed by scientists and focuses on sleep, light, melatonin, and caffeine. Just enter your flight schedule along with both your home and destination time zones, and the app generates a personalized plan based on your chronotype, preferences, sleep patterns, and itinerary. You’ll get suggestions like when to bask in or stay out of the sun, when to consume or avoid caffeine, and when to try to catch some zzz’s. Set it before departure and it will continue to offer guidance—even in-flight and when there’s no available wifi.
Gut healthy eating begins when you shop for food, but sometimes making the best choices at the supermarket isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Shopwell is a free mobile app that simplifies healthy shopping, and personalizes your experience by considering your food allergies, preferences, lifestyle, and goals. Just scan items and the app will let you know if that particular food is a good match for you.
It will also alert you if a product contains your allergens or other unhealthy ingredients, while offering recommendations for healthier alternatives with fewer ingredients, more gut-healthy fiber, and less refined sugar.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone you were with was suddenly faced with a true health emergency? Would you know how to help them?
The American Red Cross First Aid app empowers you to protect the health of others by providing the knowledge you need to give first aid in a crisis, and maybe even save a life. This free app is available in both English and Spanish, and offers a host of informative videos, animations, severe weather tips, and interactive quizzes that let you earn sharable badges.
When an emergency arises, the Red Cross stays with you as you access step-by-step instructions for common scenarios as well as a 911 call button for further assistance. There’s no cost to you at any time, but the lifesaving knowledge you’ll gain is priceless.
If you’ve begun to dine out or you’re just treating yourself to some occasional takeout, enjoying restaurant food needn’t derail your healthy diet. HealthyOut is a free app that partners with participating restaurants and stores in 500 U.S. cities to help you choose healthy prepared meals that fit with your unique way of eating—whether your personal meal plan is paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low sodium, lactose-free, or one of many other specific diets.
Filter your search by ingredients, type of cuisine, calories, or the type of dish you’re craving, and see detailed nutritional information for each option. You’ll even be asked which foods you would absolutely never eat, to make sure you’re presented with options that appeal to your taste buds as well as your better judgment.
Last but not least, no list of health apps would be complete without an affordable home fitness option. We’re loving Fitplan because it offers step-by-step home workouts by a variety of accomplished athletes and professional trainers for just a fraction of the cost of most gym memberships. You can personalize your fitness plan around specific goals or a favorite trainer.
If you’re not ready for a commitment, simply download the free app and enjoy a nice selection of one-day workouts with various trainers. A full-paid membership at $9.99 per month gives you full access to all the Fitplan trainers and programs.
With just a few easy taps you can take advantage of an almost endless selection of valuable wellness tools that will keep you feeling great at every level of your being. Wishing you your happiest, healthiest days ever.
1. Adams, J. S., & Hewison, M. (2008). Unexpected actions of vitamin D: new perspectives on the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity. Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology & Metabolism, 4(2), 80-90. doi:10.1038/ncpendmet0716
2. Chun, R. F., Adams, J. S., & Hewison, M. (2008). Back to the future: a new look at ‘old’ vitamin D. Journal of Endocrinology, 198(2), 261-269. doi:10.1677/joe-08-0170
3. Hewison, M. (2011). Vitamin D and Innate and Adaptive Immunity. Vitamins and the Immune System, 23-62. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-386960-9.00002-2
4. Kempton, M. J., Ettinger, U., Foster, R., Williams, S. C., Calvert, G. A., Hampshire, A., . . . Smith, M. S. (2010). Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents. Human Brain Mapping, 32(1), 71-79.
5. Lieberman, H. R. (2007). Hydration and Cognition: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Future Research. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(Sup5).
6. Benedict, C., Vogel, H., Jonas, W., Woting, A., Blaut, M., Schürmann, A., & Cedernaes, J. (2016). Gut microbiota and glucometabolic alterations in response to recurrent partial sleep deprivation in normal-weight young individuals. Molecular Metabolism, 5(12), 1175-1186. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003
7. Voigt, R. M., Forsyth, C. B., Green, S. J., Mutlu, E., Engen, P., Vitaterna, M. H., … Keshavarzian, A. (2014). Circadian Disorganization Alters Intestinal Microbiota. PLoS ONE, 9(5), e97500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097500
8. Thaiss, C., Zeevi, D., Levy, M., Zilberman-Schapira, G., Suez, J., Tengeler, A., … Elinav, E. (2014). Transkingdom Control of Microbiota Diurnal Oscillations Promotes Metabolic Homeostasis. Cell, 159(3), 514-529. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.09.048
9. Moreno-Indias, I., Torres, M., Montserrat, J. M., Sanchez-Alcoholado, L., Cardona, F., Tinahones, F. J., … Farré, R. (2014). Intermittent hypoxia alters gut microbiota diversity in a mouse model of sleep apnoea. European Respiratory Journal, 45(4), 1055-1065. doi:10.1183/09031936.00184314
10. Durgan, D. J. (2017). Obstructive Sleep Apnea-Induced Hypertension: Role of the Gut Microbiota. Current Hypertension Reports, 19(4). doi:10.1007/s11906-017-0732-3
Roberta Pescow is a writer at Hyperbiotics and proud mom of two amazing and unique young men. Natural wellness is a subject she’s passionate about, so she loves sharing information that helps others discover all the ways probiotics support glowing health and well-being. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.