Reviews of Health Apps

Reviewed Health Applications:

SWORKIT

Contributed by Kate Saunders & Tansley Cauley (Teacher Candidates) 

Are you interested in improving your fitness but are having difficulty finding the motivation to start working on your physical fitness and health literacy? All you need to do with this app is choose a category, set a time limit, and get to work! The Simply WORK IT App is an upbeat and motivational way to perform basic physical activity exercises anywhere!

After a week of reviewing this app we came to the conclusion that the strengths of this application out way the weaknesses:

 

Strengths
Weaknesses
–       every day is a new workout

–       fits into any schedule

–       mixes up normal workout routine

–       no equipment required

–       video demonstrations of exercises

–       verbal instructions and cues

–       keeps track of time / countdown for each exercise

–       awards presented at end of workout = motivation

–       keeps track of calories per workout and total

–       strength, cardio, yoga and strength focused workouts

–       select already made up workouts or  customize your workout to fit your needs and wants

–       frequent reminders

–       shows your recent workouts and totals

–       music playlists available through app

–       good for individuals who are not extremely active and need motivation to do a workout routine

–       need more options specified  for beginner, intermediate, advanced levels of fitness

–       should provide feedback to tell if you are performing the workout moves correctly

–       sometimes 30 seconds is too long/ too short

–       longer workouts have repetitive exercises

–       rest time placements not always at a good time

–       some workouts have a very wide range of difficulty level within them

 

 

The SWORKIT App is a fabulous app for individuals who want to be more physically active but don’t know where to start. It is easy to use and is great for people with a busy lifestyle, as you can customize it to your daily needs and schedule. When you sign up it asks what fitness goals you want to focus on. You can set a workout to last between 5-60 minutes depending on your timeframe and there are customized workouts for pregnant women and people who live in their office. You can also choose full body workouts for kids and specialized workouts for surfers, golfers, and runners. This app features pre-set workouts that are focused towards stretching, yoga, cardio and strength and within those categories you can choose specifically what you want to focus on and for how long.  This app also provides the feature of calorie counting by calculating your BMI (age, height, weight) which you enter when you sign up and also provides you with a music playlists during your workout session.

Once you select a workout you want to perform, personal training videos provide instructional guidance of proper technique throughout the session. This app is a good educational resource due to the verbal, visual and kinesthetic teaching style it encompasses. For example, it was used in a grade 9 fitness class and all the students enjoyed the 10min workout we performed even though they all have various fitness levels. They said they enjoyed the video demonstration, the countdown for each exercise and the range of different exercises without equipment so they can be performed anywhere at any time. This app would be perfect for a DPA in the classroom on days where students don’t have a PE class.

We encourage you to try this app as the motivational videos and rewards provide a helpful focus to meet your fitness goals and helps to increase your physical and health literacy over time. Go to the App store now to download this app and begin your new lifestyle.

 

MY MOOD TRACKER

Contributed by Joseph Young, Sarah Kosacky & Tori Reid (Teacher Candidates)

Being an adolescent in today’s society is not an easy task. Youth have to deal with trying to fit in with classmates, doing well in school, caring about their looks and many other unnecessary pressures placed upon them. As a result, unfortunately, many teenagers struggle with mental illnesses such as depression, anorexia and anxiety just to name a few. Such individuals, as well as those who are not affected by a mental illness, could greatly benefit from using the free app ‘My Mood Tracker.’  This app was designed so that people could keep track of their mood, plus a variety of factors that can affect someone’s mood, including but not limited to, exercise, sleep, medications, pain, menstrual cycles and stress. Every time an entry is made, you also input a little description as to why you are feeling that way. For someone that is unable to determine the cause of their stress or anxiety for example, this app would be great since they would be able to look at all the times that they felt a certain emotion and see commonalities between the instances.

The app is great for many reasons including that a 4-digit pin can be placed on it making it completely safe from the outside world and giving the individual the freedom to write whatever they want. That being said, if desired, the information can be shared by using the export feature to a trusted individual such as a therapist or psychiatrist.

There are however a few weaknesses to the app. First and foremost, it is simply a mood tracking app. There are no relaxation techniques, music or other things to help improve someone’s mood, it simply tracks it. Secondly, the app is not available on all device brands. The only brand currently offering this app – to my knowledge – is Apple.

That being said, overall, I think this app is still a great tool to use with adolescents, or people of any age group for that matter; it should simply be combined with anything resource used to change bad moods into good ones! Give it a shot and see if it works for you!

 

MY FITNESS PAL

A perfect app for beginners who want to track their food and their fitness!

Contributed by Stephanie Leyland & Kelsey Houle (Teacher Candidates)

Have you ever wanted to lead a healthy lifestyle but are unsure of where to begin? Are you new to tracking the amount of calories and nutrients you are consuming versus how much you are expending? Or, are you interested in seeing a progression from where you are now to where you would like to be?  If you have answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions- then my Fitness Pal is definitely the app for you.

My Fitness Pal is a free app that is designed to count your calories, track your level of fitness, help you lose weight, and much more. Best of all, you can use it on a computer, tablet or cellphone, which makes it very easy to access. It is a simple and easy to use tool that is perfect for teens and adults who are beginners in keeping track of their food intake and physical activity. By setting personalized goals based on the profile you have created, you are in control of your outcome, and can see this progress over time through a graph on your home page. It serves as an educational value by providing nutritional information as to how many nutrients you have consumed and which ones you should increase. It breaks down the food you are consuming into carbohydrates, protein and fat. By doing this, it acts to guide the user to form good eating habits around leading a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and exercise because the user becomes more aware of what nutrients work positively towards progress and what work negatively.

What makes this app different from other health tracking apps out there is the barcode feature. You can scan the barcode on the food you are eating and it will input the food without you having to do it. However, this app can be time consuming in order to input what you’re eating because if it is the first time you have to input the food, you need to search for it within the library.  Not to be discouraged though, as this app features one of the largest food libraries there is to offer as a health and fitness app. Another helpful feature is the app will remember your favorite foods and also allows you to input any recipes you tend to use.

One of the nicest things My Fitness Pal has to offer is that you can connect with other users within the community. You can ask health and fitness related questions, can go over tips and tricks when planning meals or fitness exercise to reach your personalized goals and motivate other individuals just like you using the app. If you want to gain confidence, reach your goals and become more knowledgeable about the importance of following a balanced, healthy lifestyle, My Fitness Pal is for you.

 

NEXTRACK

Contributed by: Chris Shibley, Asha Kauffeldt, & Sam Regier (Teacher Candidates)

The Nextrack app is marketed as a weight loss app and daily physical activity tracker. Users input information about their physical activity and the app tracks this data, and calculates things like calories burned, and weight lost. Users earn points on the app by doing physical activity. These points can be accumulated and redeemed for prizes through the app store such as free merchandise or electronics. The app also has a section to allow users to communicate with friends and peers, and see how those people are being physically active. This creates a sense of community and can help motivate people to be more active.

The app is most effective because of the rewards system, the community link, and also because of its user friendly interface. The app includes a massive database of physical activities for users to choose from. The app also includes many popular fitness programs as options such as Wii Fit, Beach Body Programs, FITT Pros and Helix Trainer.

The app is very popular and effective as a weight loss aid, however it lacks many important facets to make it an appropriate all encompassing health app. The app has no mention of dietary intake, flexibility, muscular strength/endurance, cardio respiratory endurance etc. The app also does not address mental health. The app also focuses only on weight loss, without differentiating between healthy and non healthy ways that users ma have lost weight. Because of these reasons, this app is mostly inappropriate for use in a classroom setting.

Nextrack is an effective app for people wishing to lose weight by increasing their physical activity levels. The app falls somewhat short in terms of other aspects of health.