Health Apps: Give yourself reasons why you can

Health Apps: Give yourself reasons why you can

Spring is upon us and summer is just around the corner, the hunt for tech to help in the fight to manage, log and improve overall health is on.

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Let me start by saying, find something that works for you and enjoy doing. The key here is to keep at it regularly until it becomes a habit. It's much eaiser when it's something you look forward to doing.

About a year ago Nike had an open beta for a new product called "FuelBand". I dove right in, excited about a piece of hardware which could log all my daily activities. No one likes wearing unnecessary bulk the new form factor made this product very appealing.

All that being said I love when hardware and software play nice with each other. Fast forward a year and I'm still using the FuelBand daily and loving it. My wife, sister, mother and a few friends have all joined in as well. Now don't get me wrong, I do wish there was more it can do. But I'm sure in time new integration's and features will come.

These days everything starts with social media. So what better place to start then with a good and private social medium.

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Over the past year, my social medium of choose has been "Path". It was meant to be a Facebook for that inner circle of friends. A place to share moments and conversations.  I personally don't share much on Facebook, as it has become more of an advertisement medium. Facebook seems to change their privacy polices way to often. I've given up trying to keep up. Path has been a great place to share, a place where privacy comes first without the public eyes.

Making this a great place to share your health goals and accomplishments with others. A few nice features, that we will elaborate on are Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Running integration.

The Nike+ FuelBand App is Nike's app for logging all your FuelBand data. It tracks and sync's all your activities online where it can be managed. There are also options to connect, share and view your activity through Facebook and Twitter as well. The FuelBand app's fun animations help to motivate you into hitting your goals while tracking and logging all your fuel points.

What is FuelPoints you might ask?

FuelPoints was designed by Nike to be a basic metric that everyone can compare with each other. Unlike comparing how many calories someone has burned. Nike has developed an algorithm that is based on the individuals sex, age, height, weight and activity. So everyone is comparing a baseline number.

Another nice sharing feature when hitting your goal for the day is the ability to auto post to Path a very nice looking graph of your daily activity.

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The key to improving your health all starts with the same strategy. Watching and logging what goes into your body.

For almost two years I used the LiveStong MyPlate app exclusively for logging my food. Between it's huge food database and active community it was a no brainer. After a while I slowly stopping logging my food, due to the fact of getting lazy and not wanting to look things up. Searching for things was just taking its toll. After not logging my food for almost a year, I wanted to revisit what options are out there. What I realized was LiveStrong has not made any improvements within that time. It was still lacking a barScanner (something everyone else is doing) and limited integration with other apps and hardware.

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On the flip side Fitnow the makers of Lose it! Have made huge strides within that time. They have produced a very polished open API application called "Lose it!". In my opinion they have managing to pickup where LiveStrong fell short. Features like the ability to scan food barcodes. They also have done a great job integrating with a majority of hardware and software. Such as the Nike+FuelBand, Fitbit Tracker, Withings Scale, Fitbit Aria, Nike+ Running, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness even blood pressure monitors. By no means did they over look Social media sharing with friends via Twitter and Facebook are there all due to their open API.

A nice thing to having is good scale to help you understand what is working and what is not working. There are many different scales on the market. I am personally using a the Withings WS-50 Smart body analyzer.

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This scale doesn't just monitor your weight. It monitors and logs your weight, BMI, HeartRate and even your quality of air. This scale also uses your home wifi to control, manage and view all your data right from you iPhone. As well as syncing all your data online. Withings is also good with integrating it's data with other open API's software. Like Lose it! However in order to benefit from the integration you do need a premium service with Lose it!

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Now that were tracking whats going into our body we can focus on getting more active.

In my early 20's I was heavily into weight lifting but now in my mid thirties I'm more health conscious and want to just slim down enjoy life and keep up with my boys. That being said my activity of choice these days is a good run.  Preferably early in the day when it's still cool here in Southern Califonia.

I have a few App suggestions that I have been using for quite some time. These apps have helped me make my runs even more enjoyable while making it easy to log all types of data about them.

Back to basic, Lets start with Running / Walking gear.

I would suggest you get out to a local running store. Get fitted properly by people who understand running can avoid any unnecessary injures. Out here in Southern Califonia I would recommend Runnergy they have a great knowledgeable and friendly staff. You don't need much, just get out the door regularly.

My personal must have running gear is my iPhone5, SPIbelt and the Jaybird BluebudX bluetooth earbuds.

The back bone to improvement or motivation is having the ability to analyze your run. There are many running applications out there. I've tried many of them and always find myself back to Nike+ running app. It's just so well polished it's hard to beat. It does everything you would expect out of a running app. GPS, Pace Tracking, Timer, Calories, Pedometer, Music Player and you can even set power songs to push you when you need it. All the social media services are integrated as expected Facebook, Twitter as well as Path. I personally auto post to Path where friends and family can view a nice looking map of my run. They also are given options to cheer me on during my run. I've said it before I love when hardware and software play nice. Nike+ running also work's with the fuel band to give you more accurate measurements of your run.

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Do you want some entertainment during your runs? Do you want to immerse yourself and be part of a story? If so you should check out ZombieRun2.

Let me start by saying I am not a zombie lover like some people out there. I love the idea of immersing myself in a story and for this reason I backed ZombieRun when it was still a KickStarter project. My hope is that other developers will see how successful it has been. Inspiring them to create stories of their own.

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This by all means is a running app first and story second, so all your running data is logged. They have done a great job creating a map that over lays all the details of your run. Including basic stuff like your pace how long you ran and route all with visual indicators. Markers of every song you were listening to and at what point on your route as well. They have also placed story markers with a written out outline of the story and the location. Everyone loves a good game. ZombieRun2 has elements similar real time strategy games.

You play the part as Runner 5. Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You've got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by collecting critical supplies while avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse?

A nice touch is the way they handle music, by injecting bits of the story between pauses in you music. You are also given the option to enable Zombie chases. Every so often you will hear a faint sound behind you. The idea here is to pick up your pace and out run them, forcing a short sprint.

I do love listening to music during my runs.

Spotify-vs.-iTunes

I am a big Spotify user but Apple's iMatch is really nice to have since. Most applications will let you stream from it as if it were local. Nike+ Running app works very well this way. However ZombieRun does run into some DRM issues which require songs to be physically local. Both of these apps can run side by side with spotify. They both will pause and play as needed however you do lose some specific functions within there apps.



Review: R0DE Videomic

Review: R0DE Videomic

FirstLook: ZombieRun2

FirstLook: ZombieRun2