The Best Apps for Healthy Living
These days, there are thousands of health-related apps available for your smartphone—everything from activity trackers to nutrition logs to meditation guides and fertility trackers. For anyone trying to emphasize health and wellness (or just stick to a particular health goal!), it’s worth maximizing the smartphone technology in your pocket to help motivate, measure and track your progress.
Here are some of our favorite healthy living apps that can help you achieve your fitness, nutrition and lifestyle goals.
best fitness apps
The popular Sweat app from personal trainer Kayla Itsines offers quick, easy-to-follow, high-intensity plyometric workouts. There’s almost no equipment needed (and some specific bodyweight-only workouts as well), so it’s perfect for at-home workouts. Several different fitness programs are hosted by female trainers and built around 28-minute workouts with minimal equipment and maximum impact (that’s high intensity interval training for ya!). The programs are designed to accommodate varying levels of fitness, and can be modified as needed—so you can start wherever you’re at!
The app is geared towards women (and also includes a post-pregnancy program helping new moms rebuild strength and fitness), but we don’t see why guys can’t enjoy it too. It does require a monthly or annual subscription for access, but is well worth the small fee (and much more affordable than personal training or a gym membership!).
There are many running apps out there, but Runkeeper is a long-time favorite! It lets you track your runs with audio updates along the way. You can create goals, develop running plans, and track your progress along the way. It helps measure your run and results, and keeps you on track to meet specific goals (like 5k or marathon training!).
Again, tons of yoga apps out there, but Down Dog is popular among all levels of yogis. There are lots of customization options, including difficulty level, body area of focus, music, and even the instructor voice! The wide variety of class combinations is great for regular users, as it can help feel like you never get the same class twice.
This is a paid app, but is much more affordable than yoga class, totally doable during COVID-19 studio closures, and you’re able to download sessions to use offline if needed.
Love to hike? Us too! All Trails is a database of 100,000+ trail maps, complete with mileage and difficulty ratings, useful descriptions (is it dog-friendly? is there a bathroom at the trailhead?) and user reviews (for example, good to know if the trail is overgrown this time of year, or there was a recent flood that washed out a bridge). It’s not only a great way to find new trails to explore, but is also helpful to carry along with you, and use as your map if needed.
The free Charity Miles app gives additional motivation to get out the door and get moving. Turn it on before you go for a walk, a run or a bike ride and you’ll earn money for a charity of your choice. (The money comes from donations by corporate sponsors, if you’re wondering.)
It’s super easy to use: just open the app, choose a charity, and press start. Some of the organizations available to receive funds are: Wounded Warrior Project, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America and The Nature Conservancy. (See the full list here!)
best nutrition apps
Basically the world’s most popular health and fitness app, the MyFitnessPal app does it all—food, activity and goal tracking. The 6+ million food database (which tracks macronutrients and calories) and the wide range of activities recognized across different apps and devices helps to track “calories in vs. calories out” to meet weight loss or other health goals.
You log the food you eat and the app tells you how many calories you’ve consumed, the macronutrient breakdown, and displays a scoreboard of your progress toward your goals. It also syncs with fitness trackers to estimate calories burned throughout the day. The app holds users accountable by sending reminders to log your food if you’ve forgotten to.
We’re not really into calorie-counting (all calories are not created equal, and to compare a calorie of zucchini to a calorie of Hostess cupcakes is silly), so don’t necessarily recommend this app from a calorie-counting standpoint.
But, it can be a starting point for people who are trying to gain or lose weight and need an estimate of their food intake. And, it’s still a very comprehensive and effective tool for tracking food intake and activity, in order to make lifestyle change, establish new habits, and meet health goals.
Remember those little pocket guides to choosing sustainable seafood? This is that in app form. The Seafood Watch app gives recommendations on selecting ocean-friendly and low-mercury seafood. Sushi is searchable by Japanese name too. It’s a useful and regularly-updated guide to choosing healthy and sustainable seafood.
seasonal food guide
This Seasonal Food Guide app is a cheat sheet for understanding which produce is in season in your region at any given time.
And why does that matter? Seasonally-grown produce has many benefits over produce that has been shipped in from elsewhere in the world—it’s more sustainably produced (and travels less distance to get to you), has been shown to be more nutritious and taste better, and it’s good for your community to support local farmers.
The Cara Care app helps track foods, poos and symptoms while managing gut-related health concerns like IBS, Celiac disease or food intolerances. Its specially-designed tracking methods help you find what triggers your symptoms—so you can avoid those triggers! The app also includes gut health recipes, and a free 12-week low-FODMAP program for gut healing.
best lifestyle apps
We’ve talked lots before about the importance of healthy sleep cycles. This Sleep Cycle app helps achieve that! It’s a sleep tracker, alarm clock, and (hopefully) restfulness improver.
Place your phone on your nightstand when you go to bed and the app will use your phone’s microphone to track movement in your sleep to determine where you are in your sleep cycle so it can wake you in your lightest phase. Many people report feeling better rested in the morning when using it!
The app also detects and tracks sounds like snoring and sleep-talking, so you can better understand interruptions to your sleep patterns and make adjustments to get the most restful sleep possible.
The free Think Dirty app helps you shop clean by calling out dangerous ingredients in the cosmetics industry and helping you make informed decisions about which products to purchase. (If you’re not familiar, cosmetics are full of some pretty harmful ingredients, including some banned in the EU for health concerns!)
When you’re shopping, simply scan products to learn more about the ingredients in them and their health implications. If the product you scanned doesn’t fare so well, the app also offers recommendations for healthier product options.
OvaGraph is the official charting app of the popular book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, offering convenient mobile access to tracking the fertility signs used in the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). The app then generates a chart of your cycle, helping to understand your fertility and assist with family planning or trying to conceive.
This one’s only relevant for iPhone users, and it’s most applicable to those using an Apple Watch too. But, the Apple Health app combines data from your iPhone and Apple Watch, as well as other third-party apps to consolidate a comprehensive view of your health—daily steps, exercise activity, sleep, vitals, medical history and more.
One of the key features is compiling a medical record at your fingertips. This can be quite helpful because, chances are, you have your phone with you wherever you go, so your key medical info comes with you too.
best mental health apps
Need a moment of calm? Take a few minutes out of your day to meditate with the Calm app. They have a range of guided meditations, nature sounds, and a beautiful interface with nature scene backdrops. Relaxation at your fingertips!
Headspace is another mindfulness app with specific guided meditations for different purposes—like focus, sleep or “Wake up” to start your day mindfully. The app also tracks your progress and time spent meditating, so is particularly helpful in developing a new mindfulness practice. (Which, as we’ve mentioned before, is a very healthy thing to do!)
The Blush personal coaching app is like having a life coach at your fingertips. It is a paid service that requires enrollment in a monthly plan.
When you sign up, you’ll be matched with a coach (most are trained mental health therapists, though they’re not specifically working in that capacity here). You then have access to your coach for the advice, support, problem-solving or goal-setting you need, via video and/or text chat.
To explain it in their words: “We focus on your strengths, help you create positive habits, assist you getting out of life ruts, and create a game plan for your future.” Awesome!