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09 Dec 2021

Laurann O'Reilly: Fitness at your fingertips – 24 top health & fitness apps

Laurann's column in this week's Nationalist

Six top nutrition tips for boosting your immune health with Laurann O'Reilly

Laurann O'Reilly

We’ve never had so much access to virtual health resources with the availability of so many amazing health apps for our phones.

Whether we’re on the go, working from home or you just need a little time-out, here is a list of some top apps for your body and mind, which you can take with you everywhere you go.

Here nutritionist Laurann O’Reilly and owner of Nutrition by Laurann guides us through some of her top health apps with everything from mindfulness, sleep, brain training, fitness, wearables and exploration.

Relaxation & Stress Reducing Apps

1) Headspace: This app acts as a guide to mindfulness for your everyday life. You can choose from hundreds of guided meditations including those which can help with managing stress, anxiety and focus. It’s also built to help you stay resilient during tough times with a special ‘weathering the storm’ collection which include meditations for coping with sadness, anger and adapting to change.

2) Insight Timer: Time magazine apps of the year winner, it’s built to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. With live yoga classes, stress relieving courses, group meditations, anxiety reduction experts, relaxing music/nature sounds, circles where you can chat in real time and daily check-ins.

3) Calm: This award winning app recommended by top psychologists, therapists and mental health experts helps with sleep, meditation and relaxation. Whether you’re new or experienced in mindfulness, it’s tailored to every level. With guided meditation sessions ranging from 2-25 minutes you can choose the length to suit your schedule. It also includes sleep stories for both kids and adults.

4) Smiling Mind: Designed by psychologists, it helps us to practice mindfulness and teaches us to “pay attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement”. With mindfulness for adults, kids, youth, families, the classroom, sports clubs and at work, it has over 300 meditations for all ages. You can also track it’s impact on your wellbeing and receive mindful tool tips.

Apps For Sleep

5) Sleep: This app is a great sleep tool, with everything from narrated bedtime stories designed to lull you to sleep, sleep meditations, a library of sleep sounds (such as white noise, a crackling fire and rain) and bedtime reminders to help you get a restful nights sleep.

6) Sleep Cycle: Start your day feeling energised with sleep cycle’s intelligent alarm clock, designed to gently wake you up whilst in your lightest sleep phase. It includes a detailed sleep tracker which analyses your sleep patterns, detects snoring, sleep talking, coughing and other sounds. The premium features here include relaxing sleep sounds and a story library.

Apps For Memory & Brain Training

7) Elevate: Apple’s app of the year, this is a brain training program is designed to improve focus, speaking abilities, processing speed, memory, math skills and more. Within it you get your own personalised training program that adjusts over time to maximise results. It also includes a workout calendar to help you keep on track and stay motivated.

8) Lumosity: Created by a team of scientists, this brain training programme is a fun and interactive way to not only train your brain but also to learn about how your mind works. It includes personalised science based games designed to exercise memory, attention speed and problem solving.
Planner Apps

9) Microsoft To Do: Staying organised can help to make your life more seamless and can take the pressure off the mind from having to remember every task. Within this app you can create to do lists, set reminders and make notes. These can also be shared across devices and Microsoft 365 accounts.

10) Google Calendar: Save your appointments, meetings and events (when synched with your Gmail account they can get automatically saved). You can also create, manage and view tasks as well as sharing the calendar with others.

Period Tracker Apps

11) Clue: More than just a period tracker, this is an easy to use solution that helps you make sense of your periods fertility, pregnancy and menstrual health. With 30+ tracking categories such as cramps, mood, hair, skin and sleep, helping you adapt to your unique cycle.

12) The Flo App: No matter your stage of life or reproductive goal, Flo helps you to monitor your cycle, fertility or pregnancy. Including an ovulation and pregnancy calendar, lifestyle and fitness tracker, reminders (such as water/sleep/birth control), health reports, and support forum.

Workout Apps

13) Wakeout: This award winning wellness app uses movement therapy to improve your life. Recognising that movement has the power to help us heal, relax, energise, empower and make us happy, it has over 1,800 unique ways to help us move in over 35 situations. From the bedroom to the kitchen, it has creative movement therapy for nearly every room in the house.

14) FitOn: If you’re looking for some amazing home workouts to get lean, toned and fit, then this one is for you. Packed with free workout classes and valuable fitness and nutrition advice. You can also share workouts with friends, plan meals together and create encouraging messaging groups.

15) Down Dog: For any yoga lover or anyone who would like to give it a try, this one helps you get a brand new yoga experience every time you come to your mat, unlike your regular pre-recorded videos.

16) Yoga Studio: Whether you’re a true beginner or have experience this one is tailored to all levels. If you’re looking to increase flexibility, lose weight, gain strength, find balance or just relax these guided audio and video classes may suit your needs. You may just get a taste for the real thing.

17) Strong Workout Tracker: Whether you’re a beginner or experienced power lifter, this app provides everything you need to record your workouts effortlessly. It includes a range of cardio and strength exercises (you can add your own too), detailed exercise instructions with a library of animated videos, countdown timers and stats to show your progression.

18) YouTube: Whether you use the website or the YouTube App on your phone, this is also a great source of easy to access and free fitness resources. My YouTube recommendations are 1) Yoga: For yoga lovers or those who want to get a taste of it, I recommend ‘Yoga with Kassandra’ and ‘Yoga with Adrianne’, 2) Cardio & HIIT: If you want to break out in a sweat and get the heart rate going I recommend ‘FitnessBlender’ and ‘The Fitness Marshall’ and 3) Meditation & Mindfulness: If you need a way to unwind, destress and relax the mind ‘Headspace’ is also available on YouTube, you can also check out ‘Eckhart Tolle’ and ‘The Mindful Movement’

Wearables - Whilst there are many wearables or fitness trackers available here are some of the more common ones people may be familiar with.

19) Apple Watch: Allows you to set goals, assess and adjust your progress through apps on your phone. The Activity app: is for tracking daily steps, active minutes and time spent standing and is designed to ensure you’re not too sedentary, The Workout app: on the other hand, is for running, swimming, cycling, gym classes and all the other stuff that gets your heart racing. It’s through this app you can see how many calories you’re burning and your performance, The Breathe app: encourages you to take a few minutes out of your day to take a few deep breaths to relax.

20) Fitbit: Whilst the Fitbit app may be used on its own to track basic stats, when used in conjunction with the Fitbit tracker/watch you can monitor your activity (steps, distance, calories burnt, active minutes), heart rate, workouts, sleep, and nutrition. The app is free with an option to upgrade to a premium subscription for additional features such as audio and video workouts and habit forming programs. The newest model also allows for touch free payment.

21) Garmin Watch: This GPS smartwatch has advanced health monitoring and fitness features.Track health stats (including heart rate, blood oxygen levels, respiration, stress, hydration and sleep), contains 25 preloaded sports apps, some allow you to store music (if you wish to leave your phone behind), some also contain a touch free payment option as well as having a wearable map features.

Outdoor Activity Apps

22) ViewRanger: For hillwalkers or hikers, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. This free mobile app transforms your mobile phone into a powerful GPS enabling you to record existing routes and create your own tracks. It also provides you with detailed stats so you can see and track your progress along with additional features. Definitely an essential tool for the mountains.

23) Runkeeper: Created by Asics, this is a great and free app not just for running but for all activities such as walking, hiking and cycling. It allows you to track exercise manually or through GPS and to set goals such as weight loss or to achieve faster times. You can also synchronise your workout playlists into the app and also participate in the in-app challenges for yourself or with groups. If you happen to have a wearable (see above) it synchronises seamlessly with Garmin, Fitbit and other fitness trackers with ease.

24) Strava: Whether you’re training for an event or you prefer some leisurely exercise, this free app allows you to track your fitness activity, record your run, map your route (using existing route or creating your own) and analyse your training stats (such as distance pace, speed and calories burnt). You can also participate in challenges here either personal or compete with others. Whilst used most commonly for running you can also track a whole range of other sports. It’s also compatible with many of the wearables or GPS devices such as Garmin and Fitbit.

For further information contact Laurann at: info@nutritionbylaurann.ie or see www.nutritionbylaurann.ie 

Laurann O’Reilly is a qualified and experienced Nutritionist with a BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from University of Nottingham and a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin.

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