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Apps for health and wellbeing

From the Money & Life team

There is more technology than ever to help you stay healthy in body and mind. Miriam Fine shares a round-up of ten apps to try for helping you take positive steps for your physical fitness and mental wellbeing.

1. For better sleep

A good night’s sleep is an essential foundation for keeping body and mind functioning at their best. Not only can poor sleep undermine wellbeing from day-to-day by reducing your immunity to illness and affecting your mental health and ability to focus, health experts say it can increase your risk of cognitive decline and early mortality.

SleepScore is a state-of-the-art sleep tracking app that uses your smartphone microphone to monitor sleep patterns and provide detailed data on each stage of sleep. It also provides functionality to set sleep goals and advice and tips for improving your quality of sleep. There is a limited free version that allows you to record your sleep activity and access data for the last seven nights. The premium version lets you do this over the long term and develops a program to help you improve your sleep score.

Other apps to try: According to a New York Times review, SleepScore only works with iPhone 6 and higher and a limited number of Android phones. SleepCycle is another good option to try if SleepScore doesn’t work on your device.

2. For walking/running

Walking for just half an hour a day is one of the best ways to look after your body and it gives your brain a break too. For something extra to look forward to as you work on your daily step count, you can use Time to Walk on your Apple Watch to access guided walks by celebrities like Dolly Parton to Naomi Campbell. If you don’t have an Apple Watch, you can still get more from your walks by monitoring the distance you’re travelling, elevation and average pace with Runkeeper. You can also use their guided workouts to increase your speed and walking fitness and it’s ideal for runners looking for a simple solution to log their performance and progress.

Other apps to try: If you’re taking to the trails for your walking, running or bike riding Strava and Alltrails are both great options for finding new routes to try and reporting on speed, distance and elevation as you travel.

3. For better mental health

As one of the meditation apps that’s been around the longest, Headspace has gone from strength to strength. It offers a wide choice of guided meditations you can practice anywhere and choose the length and type of session you want to try. Former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe is the voice behind each meditation and he speaks with a humour and character that matches the quirky graphics the app features. Users report that taking just 10 minutes to meditate with Headspace helps with improving attention span, alertness and their sense of calm.

Other apps to try: Meditation isn’t the only way to support your mental health with an app. Groov is available from New Zealand based nor-for-profit Mentemia and offers tips and guidance to help you develop daily habits for mental wellbeing.

4. For relaxation

Calm is another tried and tested app that offers music and voice recordings, guided meditations and tools and tips to relieve stress and improve focus and sleep. It’s a great all-rounder for helping you relax when things are getting on top of you or for starting or maintaining a meditation practice. Like Time to Walk from Apple, you can expect featured recordings from celebrities like Harry Styles, Stephen Fry and Tom Hiddleston.

5. For working out

Thanks to the lockdowns and restrictions of the COVID pandemic, there’s now even more content available for keeping fit without having to head to the gym. Aaptiv is just one of thousands of choices for workouts you can do at home and it offers a huge range of classes, with 30 new options added each week. You can plan your workouts based on your fitness level, the type of exercise you like doing and equipment you have.

Other apps to try: All out studio is a channel and app offering content from leading health and fitness brands like Prevention, Men’s Health and Women’s Health. It offers a huge library of workouts designed for fitness, strength, running and more.

6. For healthy eating

For tracking food intake, MyFitnessPal is the gold standard for apps in this category. It gives you access to a database of nutrition information for millions of different foods, including restaurant meals. You can use the diary to log your consumption and understand the types of foods you’re putting in your body. You can also set goals and use the reminder setting to get notified on your progress throughout the day and make sure you remember to track your meals.

LifeSum is an app for helping you plan your eating to meet your nutritional needs and goals. It gives you access to meal plans and recipes, with recommendations for the type of diet you’re following, whether it’s low carb, keto or Mediterranean.

7. For your finances

Money worries are one of the greatest causes of anxiety and stress for Australians. There are plenty of budget tracking and financial management apps out there, designed to help you get on top of money matters. But only a few of these are making use of Open Banking standards recently introduced to make it easier for Australians to access financial products and get a complete view of their money position across all their accounts.

The Canstar app (powered by Frollo) is one of these apps. Using secure technology, you can link all your accounts without having to share account details or passwords. The app automatically categorises your spending across linked accounts and enables you to set budgets to match your pay cycle and create savings goals for a holiday, new car or anything else you’re aiming for.

8. For sticking to goals

If you’re looking to kick goals in other areas of your life, Streak is the app for you. Working on the principle that doing something every day helps you form a habit, Streaks encourages you to keep going with up to 24 tasks which can be anything from brushing your teeth, reading more, walking the dog or staying in touch with family and friends. You can also use the reminders and reward of keeping your streak going to help you ditch unhealthy habits like smoking or binge watching TV.

9. For staying hydrated

If drinking water is already part of your regular routine, Waterlogged might not be an app you need to start using. But for many of us, taking regular drinks of water during our day is something we can easily forget to do. Waterlogged makes this easier by allowing you to set up daily goals and reminders and save and store your favourite drinking glasses and bottles so it’s easier to keep track of how much water you’re getting through. You can also sync the app with your Fitbit for an even easier way to keep yourself hydrated.

Other apps to try: Waterminder is another app with similar features and functions. This works with your Apple Watch so choose whichever app matches your preferred device.

10. For a personal experience

The Able app is being dubbed the Uber of the wellness industry. It connects you with professional coaches to provide advice, motivation and programs to keep you going towards your health goals for nutrition, weight and fitness. For a monthly subscription you get a personalised action plan and unlimited conversations with coaches to help you adapt to a healthier lifestyle and habits. You also get access to the app’s food and exercise trackers to help you stay motivated from day to day.

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