For those of us who are health conscious out there, Apple’s newest iOS 8 update comes with really useful new features: the ability for a number of health and fitness products to share information with your iOS device through a new service called Healthkit. Consequently, whichever apps you choose to utilize—what you’ve eaten and its calorie count; distances run or walked and amount of time spent sleeping, etc.—all this information can be stored on your desktop, smartphone or iWatch. Without much hassle at all, you can create a simple, synchronized personal fitness database.
Problem is that it’s a brand-new, wide-open category for every entrepreneur and wannabe, so the inventory for health data is huge and needs to be tested. Thus, unless guys like me are there to test them for you, chaos tends to rule. Every compatible app is competing for a place on your dashboard. Confusion reigns and it’s up to you to educate yourself. Jawbone’s UP, for example, not only integrates with the Apple Healthcare Kit, it can itself use data from other third-party apps including Windows.
Best bet, before you commit is to download some of these apps and take them for a ride. As these apps are going to influence your daily habits, it’s wise to be painstaking. Here are a bunch of good suggestions.
Jawbone’s UP app used to work exclusively with their own line of wearable tracking band that monitored your movements. Now, anyone, anywhere can use it as it’s fully integrated for the Apple-approved HealthKit stats folder. UP is able to track your exercise, sleep, and food intake. If you own the band, the first two are dealt with automatically. The third means text in the food items you consume or else scan through a barcode on the app. Time-consuming, well yes, at least until you figure out how to enter proportions. As I’m pretty lackadaisical about using that measuring cup, especially early in the morning or when I’m working on the road, this can be problematic. I mean, how do you measure a heaping’ helping’ of eggplant parmesan?
On the other hand, being what I’ll call a middle-aged sex kitten with a weight problem, the UP is fantastic if you need motivation and can call in friends to be part of a motivational ‘team.’ If all that positive reinforcement, pat-on-the-back stuff is your speed, then U.P. will be ideal. It’s free for download.
Motion 24/7 Sleeptracker is all about stats. It tracks you while simultaneously measuring your heart rate. It’s actually quite a simple process once you become used to it. You place your finger over your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus’s camera lens and flash. The built-in camera sensor then records your pulse for a full 60 seconds before informing you digitally as to your average beats per minute. A very impressive little doodad, I must say. Additionally the Sleeptracker app also monitors how much you may be snoring. Sleep apnea is a problem that is often diagnosed these days, especially among heavily stressed individuals with sinus and bronchial problems. The battery of tests your GP will send you to different specialists to take is often no more rigorous than this one save for the expensive apparatus. This is not to say that you shouldn’t trust your doctor, but you can do an awful lot of good for yourself with apps like this followed by reading, prompted by sites like the blessed Web M.D. It’s available for only 99 cents to download.
MyFitnessPal is useful if you’re in pretty good shape already and want a more challenging exercise regimen. Atypical is my friend Emilio, 70 pounds overweight a year ago, who uses it now to prep for marathons. It is a very specific set-up and works if you have within you the obedience and discipline to lose or maintain weight as proscribed. You start out with a survey which asks questions about your activities at work and various current personal stats. At the end of the survey, it calculates the total number of calories per day you should allow yourself to consume (as with the U.P. app, it’s up to you to do the stat work!). It will even create a calendar for you and mark off dates for you to conquer certain milestones. It’s a very intuitive app that will give you instantaneous results if you own the necessary ‘obedient’ sensibility. Free to download.
Human’s exercise philosophy is conceived around a single premise. Every person, unless they have serious health issues, is continuously active for a minimum of at least 30 minutes every day. Consequently, you are tracked over the longest amount of time you need as you move around every day. A sort of magic number is then posted in a bright circle on the app’s home screen as a sort of daily desired target, The completion of the circle depends on the amount of time you’ve spent moving around. Obviously some days will be better and quicker in their completion than others. In a very intuitive way, the app will also track your blocs of movement separately. It will look for patterns and tendencies. Thus over a period of three to four months you can discover a lot about your habits which you may have never previously realized. Consequently, Human is perfect for anybody who isn’t really about weight loss or muscle gain and is instead concerned with doing just what it takes to be healthy. It’s simple and easy to use. And you get a nice satisfaction buzz after your workout when you see the circle completed for the day. Free for download.
Map My Run gives your quest for getting fit a more professional feel. One of the nicer aspects of being a runner is that, location-wise, you can do it anywhere you want. Map My Run takes that thought and flies with it. It allows you to search for, bookmark, and create various alternate routes to your liking, in any given city. You can calculate one run’s distance from your current location, its length, plus other natural features, like a bike path or a pond. There’s also a gear-monitoring function, allowing you to enter the kind of shoe you wear with a view toward recommending a new one when it calculates that it’s time for you to purchase a new pair. It even carries sponsorship information for those of you out there who can use the help. And if you really want to go all in, you can search for and sign up for sponsored runs. Free for download.
Centered is definitely the most low-key of all the apps. It sticks to tracking your numbered steps per day as a runner or walker and the number of other exercise regimens, like, say, meditation sessions, that you complete each week. No added animation, no motivational speeches, no insults to the runners or irritating sound effects; just some straightforward information shared concerning your activities and downtime. Free for download.
The Carrot Fit app is an exercise app that takes a more fascist, or shall I say more politely, militaristic approach to assisting you in your endeavors to get in shape. This updated version feeds HealthKit data about your active calories, weight, and workouts after you supply it with hard numbers on dietary calories, steps, and weight. This way, it can monitor your actions even more closely and inevitably find even more reasons to shame you. As I said before, each of these apps is meant to fit in with coaching from certain different personality traits. Carrot Fit is not my speed, to be sure, but clearly for people out there who do desperately need this kind of treatment to perform successfully. $2.99 for the download.
Fitnet is basically a workout video. The workouts are short, practical and very much doable, as if a real-life trainer is accompanying you. Your home screen even lets you be picky as you interview various candidates and trade thoughts with your assigned fitnet crew of trainers, which allows you to choose a real, live personal trainer. Once chosen, your trainer will follow your progress and offer you ideas and plenty of rah-rah encouragement through an in-app messaging system. You can then add or subtract to and from various workouts and concentrate on categories of different types of workouts, like, say, cardio and muscle building, which it adds even more to your calendar, not to mention reminding you to do them religiously every day. The exercise sessions are serious and demand attention. Between three and ten minutes long these videos challenge you seriously and monitor your heart’s activity via your iPhone camera. Finally, when you’re finished exercising you’ll be given a score based on how well you moved. It really could work. Free for download.