The start of the New Year is a great reminder to us all to try to do better in the personal health department -- and an iPad can be the perfect "health and fitness resolution buddy," since you can take it with you anywhere. Of course, by itself, an iPad can't cause you to lose weight, get more exercise, eat better, or stop smoking. (One down side of the iPad is that it isn't heavy enough to be an exercise weight!) When equipped with the right apps, though, the iPad can be a terrific help.
Here are eight iPad apps to support you in reaching your personal health goals for the year ahead. For times when you're traveling especially light, most of them will also work on the iPhone and the iPod touch.
Core Fitness is a good, affordable app for everyone from health/fitness beginners (and that includes me) to more advanced exercise buffs. Its exercise program is designed to strengthen your core muscle groups, such as the upper legs, hips, buttocks, back, abs, and shoulders.
These exercises aren't calorie burners, but they're a good complement to hitting the treadmill, weight machines, pool, and other offerings at the gym.
The program (four yoga stretches and eight other exercises) should take about 40 minutes. For each exercise, you get information that includes setup (how to position yourself), how to do it (regular and advanced), and two short videos demonstrating the exercise.
The app costs a mere $0.99. It doesn't try to get you to spend more money for "in-app purchases." To do some of the exercises, though, you'll need a set of dumbells, an exercise ball, or a medicine ball.
My only criticism is that there's no way to navigate directly back from an entry to the home or index page, Instead, you need to either go all the way to the end screen, where there's a "back home" button, or tap your way back to the start.
If you're interested in an all-in-one calorie, nutrition, and exercise tracker, you'll find it in this app.
Itoffers an impressive -- although not fully alphabetized -- calorie/nutrition food database which includes drill-down menus for popular brands, supermarket brands, and food items sold by restaurants.
You can find out -- either before you eat it, or after -- what's in just about any food product. The odds are that, if an item is edible, it's in the database.
On a quick check of the database, I was able to get the ingredients of the relatively obscure cereal I typically eat for breakfast (Hi-Lo Regular), as well as for a McDonald's Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (Regular).
Other features of the app include diary loggers for exercise, meals, sleep and weight.
If you're in a food store, you can use the built-in barcode reader to let you check the contents of a food item you're considering buying, enter it into your journal, etc.
If you belong to a gym (and if you manage to get there), you'll probably find people who can help you with your exercise routine. If not, Daily Workouts FREE gives you an assortment of workouts anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes long, voice-guided with pauses between exercises so that you have time to switch positions.
The app library encompasses about 50 exercises. The app's standard full-body workout will randomly select four exercises each in the categories of ab, arm, cardio, butt and leg exercises.
The built-in videos help show you how a given exercise -- such as "plie squat hops" or "right oblique crunch" -- is done.
The app's creator also offers several other free apps, and some for $0.99, along with a more comprehensive Daily Workouts app that costs $3.99. Daily Workouts FREE will either teach you all you think you want to know about daily workouts or get you better positioned to spend some money on the next level of instruction.
Nutrition Menu - Calorie, Exercise, Weight & Water Tracking
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
This app comes with built-in databases for both food and exercise/activity. The food database offers nutritional breakdowns for over 50,000 grocery items and 42,000 restaurant items.
The exercise database can calculate how many calories you've burned for the specified activity, based on your weight and the time you've spent doing it. Exercises/activities include a wide variety of exercises beyond workouts, such as "elliptical trainer" and "stair stepper,' along with other recreational/sport activities. For example, dancing encompasses "belly, general, jazz, jitterbug, modern, swing, tap, and twist." Also included in the exercise database are fencing, Frisbee, hacky sack, juggling... even vacuuming!
Through a built-in journal, you can total your intake of fiber, protein, cholesterol, sodium, sugars and water for the day, relative to your target amounts. You can also record your weight and see the results as a graph.
If you only have a few minutes of free time each day, here's an app that addresses another side of fitness.
The free Family Fitness app targets our "stabilizing muscles," which help with things like balance and coordination, as opposed to the "mover" muscles that do the -- ahem! -- heavy lifting in daily activities and general workouts.
To do these exercises, You'll need a soft elastic ball around 8 to 10 inches in diameter (emphasis on "soft" -- no soccer balls, etc.).
Family Fitness provides instructions for six "levels" (or positions) -- and it includes a timer. The timer could stand to go longer, though. Perhaps it might also include an audio count-out -- or, at least, half- and full-minute alerts.
Family Fitness is narrowly focused. Yet it's free, and it can help to round out your exercise routine.
Workout Plan - Fitness Schedule & Journal
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
I'm recommending Workout Plan for one specific feature I haven't (yet) found in other fitness apps: the "Other Details" and "Notes" fields for each exercise entry.
If you're going to be using any exercise machines, you want to be able to record settings such as elevation and speed for the treadmill and seat height or distance for many of the weight machines.
If you go to a regular gym, you might have a paper folder there. Still, this app lets you keep the info close at hand, and to have it with you in case you're staying at a hotel that has a workout room.
Workout Plan assumes you know what you are doing in terms of how to do a given exercise. It's for creating workout schedules. You can have dozens, with different exercises in each one.
Granted, you could get the same log-keeping effect with a simple note-writing, document, or spreadsheet app. However, once you've created a workout, when you select it, Workout Plan will step you through the sequence.
I don't smoke tobacco, and I never have, but I know from watching friends that it can be a beast of a habit to kick.
My Last Cigarette asks you to enter the following information: your date of birth (no reason you can't fudge it somewhat, if you're leery of giving personal data unnecessarily); when you started smoking; your quit date; how many cigarettes you smoke per day; whether they are low, medium or high strength; and how much you spend per 20 cigarettes.
Based on this information, the screen shows sundry data. These include circulation and lung health indicators relative to when you'd been smoking and how much money you're no longer spending when you quit. You also get the opportunity to see a gruesome picture of smoker's innards.
This program will take around four weeks to complete and you must have a genuine desire to quit smoking.
My Last Cigarette strikes me as too simplistic, though. There's no accommodation for having quit and unquit in the date settings, or for the average amount you smoked (or the price of cigarettes) to change.
But for a buck, if there's a chance the app might help you, it's well worth the download.
Given that smoking involves a mix of formed habits and chemical addiction, giving it up can take more than simple resolve. The Quit Smoking Now HD app is one of many apps (not to mention audio tapes, books, videos, seminars, etc., I'm sure) that includes hypnotherapy in its toolkit. (Stop Smoking Pro, for example, involves "39 minutes and 33 seconds" meditative sessions.)
App developer Max Kirsten identifies himself as a clinical hypnotherapist and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) master practitioner who himself was a heavy smoker for many years.
The app has three main hypnotherapy audio sessions. One of these is the main "Quit Smoking Now" session, which you listen to only once. Another is the "Now That You've Quit" booster session, which you listen to daily for one week, and then every other day for three weeks.
The third session is 15 minutes of "ambient relaxation." The sessions include "binaural beat technology." (Many of the stop-smoking apps seem to have funky audio stuff in them!)
The app also includes "fact cards' and a "quit smoking calculator" showing how much money you've avoided spending by not buying cigarettes (assuming you haven't spent it on coffee, food or something else instead). Meanwhile, you also get advice on how to avoid weight gain while you're quitting, etc.
While seven bucks for an app is more than free or a buck, you might spend as much or more on one pack of cigarettes, depending on where you live. So if this app helps you stop smoking, that's a great bargain. Even if not, you've probably avoided smoking at least a pack during the time you've been trying out this app.
Once you've made a resolution to lose weight, get more exercise, eat better, or stop smoking, these apps can help you with information, record-keeping, time-keeping, reminding, and much more. Have a happy (and healthy!) New Year!!!
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