Apps to Improve Your Health

Most of us wish we could get healthier with the touch of a button. In a way, these health apps make that a possibility. See what the following smartphone apps and sites can do to keep you on track when it comes to relieving stress, eating right and working out.

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Can’t afford a personal trainer, dietician or regular spa treatments? That’s okay, because there’s an app or website out there that can help you achieve similar results on a much smaller budget. Dr. Oz combed through the thousands of health apps out there so you can invest your time in something effective – and avoid downloading something bogus. Improve your health with the touch of a button. See how the following health apps and sites measure up.

Stress Check Pro by Azumio

This app quantifies your stress levels by measuring your heart rate through the camera and light features on your iPhone. Sounds complicated right? It’s not. Hold very still and cover the entire camera lens with the soft part of your fingertip. Press down gently; the phone measures the variation in your heartbeat. The more you use Stress Check, the better the app gets to know you and your heart. And the more you use it, the more you can keep an eye on your stress levels. Compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPod touch (5th generation). Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

MoodPanda

Many psychologists and therapists suggest that keeping a mood diary can be very therapeutic. This app actually makes a graph of your mood over the course of a day or a month. Several times a day, you can rate your mood on a scale of 1 (unhappy) to 10 (very happy). You can also add a description of why you feel that way; for example, you can note if you just had a great lunch with a friend. Every time you enter your mood, the data is used for the graph. A benefit of this is that, over time, you can become more aware of your feelings, and the things that cause them – and it can remind you that your bad moods are temporary. You can share your MoodPanda results on Facebook and Twitter, and you can sync it to your calendar. Available for iPhone and Android phones.

Breathe2Relax

Ever notice how tight your chest feels when you’re stressed out, angry or anxious? When we’re stressed, we tense up and our breath becomes very shallow. The right breathing can send signals to your brain to stop the flight-or-fight response and bring back your sense of calm. Use the Breathe2Relax app to rate your stress. Once you rate your stress, Breathe2Relax uses state-of-the-art graphics, animation, narration, and videos to give you step-by-step instructions on how to properly and effectively deep-belly breathe. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2.2 or later.

MealSnap

This app really makes you think before you eat. MealSnap scans your food when you take a picture of it (or type it in) and provides nutrition information. This could mean you choosing not to order that side of fries more often – and after using it for a while, you could establish new eating habits. MealSnap can give you information for non-packaged foods, and can help you keep track of your calorie intake throughout the day. MealSnap works with a database of 500,000 food items. MealSnap can also serve as a food diary, allowing users to keep a visual log of the meals they have eaten. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

StickK

Would you skip your workout if you knew it would cost you money? On the site Stickk, you make a pledge to do something and create “Commitment Contracts” that bind you to achieving your personal goals. And if you fail to follow your pledge – you have to pay money to a charity you hate. That’s the catch! StickK was developed by Yale economists who found that when your money or reputation are on the line, you are much more likely to stick to your word and achieve the goals you set for yourself. Additionally, you can designate other StickK users as your Supporters. Supporters post encouraging messages in your Commitment Journal, the place where you make daily entries on your progress toward achieving your goal.

Fitocracy

This social networking site and app uses a points system and a sense of competition to get you going. Fitocracy is a free daily workout tracker and fitness community with 800+ exercises for strength, cardio, and weight loss. The iPhone app allows you to plan your fitness goals and track your daily workouts.  With Fitocracy, you can earn points for exercising – whether you choose to take a Zumba class or a flight of stairs instead of the elevator – and unlock achievements. And because of its social aspect, you can compete against friends – which can be really motivating. Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.