Oh, There’s An App For That…

I know that I’m usually the first to rag on people’s addiction to technology and their smart devices. That being said, I also acknowledge that my health wouldn’t be what it is today, if not for advancements in the technology that make things like my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor possible. So, I’m also the first one to swallow my words when technology works in my favour. Maybe that sounds like a double standard, but what are you gonna do? It’s my blog! Moving on… Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis is also aware that I’m a big fan of fitness, exercise and maintaining one’s health. And these are all things that can work great in tandem with said technology.

It seems not a week goes by without hearing someone say “Oh, there’s an app for that…” And that’s usually pretty accurate. From finance to planing and organizing, dieting to social media, smart devices have pretty much opened the spigot on the market for programmers to put out an app for just about everything under the sun. This includes health & fitness. Now, I’m usually one to endorse working out and maintaining one’s health ‘au natural,” if you will. This means that I have no issues working up a solid sweat by using a small square of floor space and using nothing but my own body weight in order to work up a solid sweat.

All this being said, I’ve also gotten into the routine of enjoying a number of different apps on my phone, which I use to track fitness and health habits in my daily life. Most of you know this already, as I use one particular app to prominently track my walking, running and cycling workouts. And since I’ve always used an iPhone, these apps will be ones that are available through iTunes and the App Store. I can’t speak to what equivalents may be available for Android users. But without further ado, here are my top five apps that I use to help improve my health & fitness habits:

  • LibreLink: Of course, I have to include something directly related to Diabetes, here. This is a free app that works in conjunction with the FreeStyle Libre, which as my Endocrinologist puts it is the “poor man’s CGM.” The FreeStyle Libre works by being injected into the tricep and held in place by an adhesive and can be read by specialized software. If you’re old school and don’t have access to a smart phone, you can purchase the Librelink Reader for roughly $50 (depending on the pharmacy you shop at) but you can definitely save the cost by using the app. Simply hold the phone up to the Freestyle Libre and it will read your sensor glucose, same as a CGM would. The app is fantastic as it allows you to input your age, weight and a bunch of other stats and will show you trends, graphs and even has an A1C calculator based on the readings held in its memory;
  • Noisli: If you have a whole bunch of brain-burning acronyms attached to your name like I do, sleep can be a fleeting thing. And even more fleeting when Diabetes issues keep you up as well. It can be difficult to find something to help you sleep that doesn’t involve medication or gets drunk. That’s where Noisli comes in. This is a free “white noise” app that allows you to use and customize a wide variety of sounds to help you drift off to la-la land. Sounds include rain, thunder, wind, rustling trees, leaves, trickling and dripping water (those ones would make me need a diaper overnight), crackling fire and even some more eclectic sounds like the background of a coffee shop and a train clacking on railroad tracks. The aspect I enjoy most is having access to white, pink and brown noise, which are all varieties of a static-like sound that are designed to help calm your mind and help you drift off. I actually did a full post on white noise, which you can read here. My favourite aspect of this app is that you can combine any combination of those sounds and even save them as specific profiles so that they’re available the next time you open the app, without having to combine them all together every time;
  • My Water Balance: If you guys aren’t tired of hearing me say how important it is to stay hydrated, you haven’t been paying attention! This app is a fun little program that allows you to set goals and track your daily intake of fluids. You can input your weight and hydration goals and the tracker will keep a tally of how much you’ve drank throughout the day. You can download the free version, which tracks the basics like water, coffee, tea and a few others. I’ve paid the small amount to download the full version, which has a batch of additional options and lets you track just about every type of beverage including, ahem… wine and beer! The app suggests how much you should be drinking based on your age and weight, but you can also set your own goal. The only downside is you have to manually enter the amount of fluids you drink, which can be problematic if you’re using a glass at home and don’t know how much it holds;
  • Seconds Pro: This app is actually called “Seconds,” but I forked over the added money to get the Pro version. This app features an interval timer that you can program yourself. in other words, you can develop your own circuit timers using your own, chosen exercises. Not only does it let you customize your workout, it also connects to your device’s music library, meaning you can link your favourite workout playlist and have it play in conjunction to the circuit you’re doing. Now, paying for the Pro version does have it’s share of increased features and functions, including different TYPES of circuits and certain tracking features. I purchased a Lightning to HDMI cable and I used to run this app directly to the large, flat screen available at one of my postings. It was incredibly handy to help keep my workouts on point. But the last benefit I’ll mention, is that the app’s voice over means you don’t require a screen. The app will tell you when a timer count is ending, what exercise you’re on and when the workout is done. Think Siri, but for fitness; and
  • Runkeeper App: This one was saved for last because it’s my overlord of fitness… I use it to track everything else. This app has features that allow you to enter your age, weight, height, fitness goals and what units of measurement you want to use for everything (metric or imperial, etc…) Then, you can use the GPS function to track your distance, speed, mileage and calories burned for trackable activities such as walking, running and cycling. It also allows you to manually log other activities, such as swimming, elliptical and even yoga and meditation (yes, meditating burns calories. Read about it here). The basic app is free and you can join fitness competitions, add “friends” through your contacts or Facebook (provided they’re also using the app). I use it to log ALL my activities including weight workouts and karate sessions. There’s a paid or “Pro” version you can sign up for, but it comes in pretty costly at $13.99/month, which may be cheaper than a public gym membership but more than a person is willing to pay on an app. I’ve been using the basic version since 2017, and it’s suited my purposes quite well. In fact, if you’ve read any of my posts on my cycling goals, the images that I feature are usually screenshots from this app.

There you have it, folks! My top five apps that I use for health and fitness. This is the part where I point out that I am in no way being compensated for speaking about these apps, nor do I endorse them specifically above any others that you may have tried/like. In fact, I’ve tried a score of others. Some have been as simple as a library of different exercises. Some have been so over-the-top complicated that I removed them from my device within the first week. The important thing is to find some helpful apps that work for you and your lifestyle.

I don’t endorse technology all that often, so mark this day on your calendars! Actually, besides the technology used for my pump and Diabetic supplies, I usually don’t endorse technology at all, haha. But since society as a whole is normally tethered to their smart devices, it only makes sense to use them to benefit our health & fitness. I find that all of these apps are somewhat subjective to the user. I think the five I’ve listed are fantastic and even if I’ve removed some of them on occasion, I always seem to come back to them. There’s plenty of good, free apps out there so don’t be afraid to install a few and try them. Worse that happens is you don’t like them and remove them. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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