Your smartphone probably knows more about you, than your best friend does.
Your phone knows what you watch, your Internet search history, where you’ve been, your friend’s list and now it can even look out for your health.
Health technology is currently a growing market, with tech companies like Apple recently unveiling the new Series 4 Apple Watch with an inbuilt electrocardiogram. The electrocardiogram monitors the wearer’s heart for abnormal heart patterns and can also call emergency if it detects any falls. It’s a pretty bold step for Apple into health innovation, with other technology companies not too far behind.
Now, as cool as it is that tech companies are moving into the health space with innovative products, the majority of us still can’t afford them. If you are like me, you’ll just have to keep typing your symptoms into Web MD and freaking out.
There are however some pretty fantastic health apps available for smartphones, some of which are free. The below are my top recommendations.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians are stressing more than ever before. 75% of Australians asked reported that the stresses in their lives affected their physical health. Stress is commonly linked to ill health, affecting your sleep, digestion, cognition and much more.
The fact is – society needs to chill the f out.
If you can’t get to that fancy yoga class that costs more than your rent, maybe try one of the below apps. It doesn’t need to be all of them, stick with the one you like and test it out at bedtime or even on your commute. It can even slot in nicely after a Sunday night Netflix binge session.
Calm is the #1 app for meditation and mindfulness, and I can see why. I have just started using it, and already I’m a big fan. It contains multiple ways of calming, from over 100 guided meditations to sleep stories (one of them is read by Stephen Fry). I like it because it plays on meditation and calming in more than one way.
I find meditation too difficult as my mind is always on, but listening to sleep stories or calming sounds is heavenly. It has over 200,000 5-star reviews; I’m not the only fan. Headspace is also a similar and popular app.
‘We loved having bedtime stories read to us as children so why should that stop now that we’re all grown up? Sleep Stories are soothing tales read by well-known voices to help people unwind and fall into a deep sleep each evening.’
It can be challenging for people to go and see a psychologist or counselor for multiple reasons, from the expense to the availability. This is where free health apps such as Pacifica are great, therapy from your pocket. This mental health app for stress, anxiety, and depression has won multiple awards.
It is more than just a therapist; the app includes relaxation techniques, great mood/health tracking, guided self-help, goal setting, peer support community, and progress tracking. The app has also been developed by experienced psychologists, making it scientifically sound.
Ironically it’s been reported that increased smartphone and social media usage are linked to mental health issues and increased loneliness. 7 Cups is a therapy and counseling app that is trying to change that.
It’s the world’s largest emotional support system, with free, anonymous and confidential online text chat with trained listeners, online therapists and counselors. If you’d like unlimited contact with your therapist from your pocket, it’s as cheap as $37.50 a week.
‘Whether you are going through a challenging time or just want to talk to someone, 7 Cups can connect you to kind people and help you develop new skills to solve your problems’
I won’t lie, this app is on my phone, and I don’t use it that much…but I should. This app combines fun games to boost maths, writing, speaking and listening. Never stop learning and keep your brain sharp with this app, based on independent research. It also won Apple’s App of the Year!
Image via Nike Training Club
The mind and body work in unison to keep everything going, which is why it’s important to look after both.
If you’re like me, it’s easy to get bored doing one form of exercise, which is why fitness apps can be really useful. It’s not just fitness apps that are beneficial for your health; there are apps for food tracking and even sleep cycles. Take your personal trainer wherever you go, from your pocket.
This smart app analyses your sleep through your phone and wakes you up naturally with light during your ‘light sleep,’ Waking up during this stage of sleeping, rather than deep sleep, is supposedly much calmer and more beneficial. It is also useful to track your sleeping patterns…see where the nightmares begin.
This app is commonly rated as one of the best workout apps around, with over 180 workouts and expert trainers. The app provides both free and paid for content, with bespoke personalised training plans and fitness trackers. It can be handy if you hate gyms or travel a lot, to have an exercise app on the go.
Having an app that tracks your daily steps can be both a blessing and a curse, especially when you don’t move from the sofa on a Saturday. This app is highly rated as an all-round health tracker. It tracks your all of your daily activities from steps to calories burned and can also track your sleep patterns. It can also go one step further, enhancing runs and tracking exercise performances, tracking weight and logging food/water intake.
The app is incredibly helpful to look back on, recording trends and reviewing patterns. It will know more about your body than you do.
I am completely in the hands of my period tracker. That’s not a joke; I genuinely have no idea when my period is coming until my phone alerts me. It’s like a monster-warning alarm. This app is a period and ovulation app, which uses science and data. Clue is essential for those of us with disruptive periods. It also has an informative and fun website.
‘Clue is a menstrual tracking app, an encyclopedia, a resource for your health, and more.’
With female health always taking a backseat in public health, I think that Clue is the education and friend that all females need. It is also rated the top free period and ovulation tracker app by the journal Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
Olivia is an eco-writer, producer, science graduate & ocean enthusiast. After moving from London to Sydney, she found her love for the outdoors and recycled textiles, which led her to start writing about science and sustainable fashion. Olivia is really passionate about brands using fashion for good and innovation in the industry. She now splits her time between several not-for-profit organisations in communication roles. Olivia is also a Centre for Sustainability Leadership alumni and sits on the Fashion Revolution committee for Australia & New Zealand.