Staying healthy is about way more than eating vegetables and moving around here and there. And these days, we spend countless hours pouring over our iPhones, tablets, and computers. Screens dominate both work and play, leaving little space for good old-fashioned movement.
Still, there is a huge pool of apps—both free, paid, and those somewhere in the middle—aimed at keeping you happy, healthy, and connected to the digital world.
Some of these options are there to help you understand your body, diagnose symptoms, or gently remind you to get up and move from time to time. While they can’t replace an actual doctor, arming yourself with the right knowledge can help you become a better advocate for yourself when you do have an appointment.
Best apps for tracking your vitals
Red Cross First Aid
Though many of us have gone through some CPR or first aid training, a good chunk of the population doesn’t quite know what to do when an accident happens.
The Red Cross First Aid app is a great resource. You’ll have access to step-by-step instructions for what to do in the event of a natural disaster, when someone is having an asthma attack, or how to protect a broken bone.
What’s more, the content preloads, so you don’t need to worry about finding a cell tower in the event of an emergency.
Doctor on Demand
Doctor on Demand has a whopping 4.9 average rating in the App Store for a reason: the app works to increase patient access by facilitating appointments via video chat. So, you can set up an appointment from your phone to address any concerns you have. They’ll take your medical history and go over symptoms, just like a typical check-up.
The app is available to anyone in the U.S. and offers access at a lower rate than you’d pay at your average urgent care facility. The service takes most insurance plans but is priced low enough that even those without insurance can take advantage of the service without breaking the bank.
While this certainly won’t solve the current issues in the health care system, the app definitely fulfills a need—and is perfect for those who need treatment in a pinch.
MyFitnessPal is probably the best-known health and fitness app in the game. It’s been around since 2005 and allows users to track calories, break down ingredients, and log their calorie counts and physical activity in one app.
The idea is that keeping a food diary helps users understand their habits and increases the likelihood of achieving your goals. As a bonus, the website provides a ton of content geared toward helping readers make healthier choices.
Reading labels at the market is a lot of work. It’s also not optional if you have allergies or dietary restrictions—or you just want to avoid processed foods, added sugars, or too many grams of fat.
The app allows you to scan labels via mobile barcode scan or you can search their database. The Fooducate directory is crowdsourced, and users upload new items to add to the database. Users rate and score options themselves, so be mindful that the scoring model is subjective.
While this is a great resource, it doesn’t fully replace the guidance of a nutritionist or even doing your own research.
The app doesn’t quite have a handle on how to deal with terms like “natural” which don’t actually mean anything. Still, the ability to search for gluten-free options and adjust your macronutrients is a great feature.
Happify is an app that aims to help users overcome stress by leveraging scientific research to improve emotional health and resilience. Stress is linked to so many risk factors for death—heart disease, liver problems, and even suicide.
The app arms you with the tools you need to start making positive changes—and even offer solutions geared for the workplace.
They do mention that it will take some effort on your end, but in all, the free app is worth a shot, right? Who couldn’t stand to be a bit happier, right?
CDC Mobile App
The CDC mobile app isn’t exactly a fun lineup of healthy content. The featured screenshots include a stool sample, while the dashboard menu serves up items like “Disease of the Week.”
But that’s not to say it isn’t useful. Patients who want a complete library of medical information, public health updates, disease tracking, and access to medical journals are bound to see a ton of value here.
Calm, the popular meditation app, has the wellness corner covered. The idea is, many of us don’t know how to mediate and could benefit from a little bit of guided support.
The app takes you through a few sessions, which vary in length and with the option of adding soothing rain sounds or crashing waves to boost relaxation potential.
And, just so you know, Calm isn’t just about meditation anymore. They’ve really bulked up their features as of late—there’s a selection of guided stretching videos, soothing playlists, and sleep stories, which read to you as you drift off.