Your smartphone can now help you stay healthy


Your smartphone’s apps can help you stay healthy. There are apps which encourage users to eat healthy and exercise more. There are puzzle and brain training games, the benefits of which have been emphasised by various studies. Then there are music apps that can help combat stress. Interested? Here are some areas where a smartphone app can help.

Mental health

Studies show that playing video games have various health benefits too. They can boost attention, improve cognitive skills and combat depression. A recent study by Open University of Catalonia, Spain published in Journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in June 2017, found that brain regions involved in visual memory and attention was more efficient in regular gamers than non-gamers. A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in April 2015, suggest that puzzle games can improve a person’s reasoning, spatial working memory and episodic memory.

Games such as Neuro Nation (iOS and Android; $14 per month for 3 months program),and Lumosity (Android and iOS; $15 per month subscription) offer short puzzles which test users ability to process information quickly. Playing them regularly can help users stay focused, think quickly, and improve working memory.

Then there are apps which can help combat depression. A 2017 study by Northwestern University, Illinois, published in January 2017 found that apps such as IntelliCare can lower anxiety and depression using interactive videos.

Stress buster

Mobile apps can help people combat stress through meditation based exercises. They can also keep track of their heart and quality of sleep.

Azumio’s Instant heart rate monitor app (Android and iOS; Rs 200) can help users by teaching them the art of slow breathing. Users can check their heart rate by putting their finger on the phone’s rear camera which, like an Oximeter, tracks colour changes on the fingertip which are linked to the pulse. Users can also rely on fitness bands such as Xiaomi Mi Band 2, Goqii, or Fitbit Charge 2 to track heart rate as well as the quality of sleep. User can get a detailed view of their sleep quality, calories burned and heart rate on the smartphone app linked to these fitness bands or smartwatches.

Apps such as Headspace (Android and iOS; $5.74 per month) and Breethe (Android) can help users overcome tiredness, anxiety and insomnia using simple meditation based exercises. They also provide daily reminders to help users imbibe yoga or meditation into their daily routine.

Healthy Diet

Mobile apps can also help users discover meals which are tasty and low on calories at the same time. Sony’s Lifelog app (Android) allows users to get nutritional value of a food item or the calories it contains by taking a photo. The app uses deep learning technology to run an image analysis of the food item by using the existing logs in its database.

Apps such as The Weight Monitor (Android and iOS; Rs 4,750 per month for 3 months program) not only provide customised diet plans and weight loss programs for users, but also allows them to chat directly with professional nutritionists and share their feedback. It also has a scoring system which allows users to score their daily weight loss performance. It can help users stay motivated. These apps are designed to create awareness among users about the food they eat and avoid calorie rich diet.

Physical exercise

Smartphones come with built-in tools such as GPS and accelerometer which can track users’ physical activity, steps walked, and calories burned. Apps such as Google Fit (Android) or 5K Runner (Android and iOS; $2.99 per month) are designed to take advantage of them. The 5K Runner is a little more organised. It focuses on running based exercises and has several programs based on the level user wants to begin. Then there are apps such as Apptiv (Android and iOS; Rs 650 per month)offer workout programs for users who don’t have a gym in their neighbourhood. It provides videos and audios with step by step instructions on different types of fitness programs such as ab workouts, elliptical training and running.