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Healthy You

Can smartphone apps really help you get healthy?

Thursday, December 21, 2023 10:06 AM

By Endeavor Health

These days, most of our daily moves are tracked by some type of technology.

Much of it is our own doing.

Smartwatches and smartphones monitor our heart rate, steps, where we go and who we take photos with. There are smartphone apps available to track mood, social media use, diet, exercise, sleep and finances.

That computer on our wrist or in our pocket can tell us a lot about ourselves.

It sounds unnerving. But when it comes to health and wellness, tracking can have a positive effect. When we use an app to help us change bad habits, accomplish a fitness goal or improve our mental state, it can be beneficial to health.

Healthy phone app

While each app serves a different purpose, there are common benefits. What exactly can your mobile apps do for you?

Let’s start with goals. If your goal is to eat more nutritious, heart-healthy meals, you could use an app to track what you eat in a given day. You might be surprised by how much snacking goes unnoticed. Tracking can help you see the complete picture.

If you have a fitness goal, you can see your progress when you track your activity on an app. Having the data can help you make decisions about how to work toward your goals. Some allow you to interact with other users to inspire each other. Fitness apps are plentiful, both paid and free, and vary, so your chosen activity dictates which one works best for you.

When it comes to general wellbeing, there are apps to remind you to breathe, meditate, take a screen break, stop scrolling. There are even apps that can help you lower your stress and get better sleep. Mental health and wellness apps abound and can make a big difference in your state of mind.

In addition to helping you adopt healthy habits, there are apps to help you break bad ones.

One thing that usually lands near the top of any physician’s list of habits to break is smoking. There are a number of smoking cessation apps that can help you track your progress, distract from urges to smoke and motivate you to keep going through the process.

With all that said, when it comes to apps, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance. Smartphones are helpful for data collection, but that same collection has the potential to become a point of obsession.

Use an app to supplement your chosen goal — but don’t make it the central element. Also, be aware that some apps are marketed as promising quick or too-good-to-be-true results. Just like any product, maintain some level of objectivity.

Lastly, there’s no need to stick with an app that isn’t working for you. If you try one out and it’s not as helpful as you hoped, give another one a test drive.

NorthShore University HealthSystem, Swedish Hospital, Northwest Community Healthcare and Edward-Elmhurst Health are now united under one name, Endeavor Health. We’re setting a new standard for healthcare that’s focused on you, because your best health is our endeavor. Learn more.

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