The best health apps for your smartphone

We all know what's good for us: exercise more, eat healthier, maybe stop smoking… but we don't always stick to a healthier lifestyle. Are you having trouble achieving your healthy goals? Then try using your smartphone as a personal assistant. We give you the best health apps for your smartphone.

Tip 01: Your own sports coach

There are hundreds of sports apps in the app stores for your iPhone or Android device, but how do you find an app that works for you? If you have a motivation problem, it's useful to use an app that lets you know, for example, through friendly reminders that it's time to get moving. Two good apps for this are Seven and 30 Day Squats Challenge. The first app wants you to exercise for seven minutes every day. This should be possible for everyone. The app shows exactly which exercises you should do and indicates via notifications on your smartphone when it is time for your seven-minute workout. 30 Day Squats Challenge is an app that requires you to perform a round of squats every day for 30 days. This app also tries to motivate you through notifications and you can easily share your results via social media.

If you are looking for long-term help, you have many options. Apps like Runtastic, MapMyFitness, Strava, Endomondo and Runkeeper all have about the same functions on board. They track your activities (not just running, by the way) and show it on a map. This way you can immediately see where you have cycled or walked, how long the route was, how many calories you have burned and how fast you have completed the route. Most apps also allow you to keep track of what you eat in a day and link your social accounts to take on challenges with friends.

If you have a motivation problem, it is useful to use a reminder app

Tip 02: Eat healthier

If you're having a hard time losing weight but feel like you're doing everything you can to lose weight, try a calorie tracker. When you start the MyFitnessPal app for the first time, you indicate your goal: lose weight, maintain your current weight or gain it. Then tell what your movement pattern looks like and what your current weight and height is. The app then gives you a calorie goal. You should make it a habit to declare everything you eat and drink in the app. Fortunately, this is easy, because all kinds of food items are in the database. You can also link the app to the motion tracker of your smartphone. The calories burned are subtracted from the total calories. If you have exercised, you can also enter this yourself in the app.

If you are looking for healthy recipes to eat, install the Runtasty app. This app is from the same creator as Runtastic and is packed with healthy recipes. The colored icons next to the recipes make it easier to search for specific dishes, such as vegetarian, gluten-free or high-protein. If you want to know exactly what certain e-numbers on packaging are, take a look at the E-numbers app. You can read exactly what E951 means and whether it is actually harmful.

Tip 03: Sleep better

Do you keep waking up at night or are you still tired when you wake up? Then install a sleep app to register your sleep. Hopefully this way you will find out what the reason is that you sleep badly. A good app is Sleep Better. You have to give the app information about what you ate during the day, whether you watched television before going to sleep or, for example, drank alcohol. The app tries to combine all these factors into your ideal personal sleep plan. The app analyzes your sleep by registering your movements. You have to put your phone next to your pillow for this. The app recognizes braking phases and can set a variable alarm. This means that if you want to be woken up between 6:30 and 7:30, for example, the app will pick the ideal time to do so. Other good sleep apps include Sleep Cycle for iOS and Sleep As Android for – you guessed it – Android.

The app recognizes braking phases and can set a variable alarm

Tip 04: Quit smoking

Do you smoke? Then one of the most important steps to a healthier life is to really stop smoking. But this is also one of the most difficult things to keep up with. An app cannot replace your doctor's entire plan, but the QuitNow! is a very good motivational app. Once you've made the decision to quit, open the app and indicate how many cigarettes you smoked per day. You must also indicate how many cigarettes are in your package of choice and what the price is. The costs that you save by not smoking are a good motivator not to smoke again. This is nicely prominent at the top of the app. A timer counts up and you can see at any time how much money you've already saved by quitting smoking. You get badges for the number of days you don't smoke and you see the effect of quitting on various health risks. Other apps that can help you are Livestrong MyQuit and Quit It Lite.

Tip 05: Personal doctor

Ada is not a motivation app, but your personal doctor's assistant. In recent years, an enormous amount of medical data has been collected for this app and converted into a database of symptoms and associated diseases. The app isn't a replacement for the GP, of course, but if you're concerned about something in your body, you can use the app to find out what it could be. The app does this amazingly well. Ada also occasionally asks you about symptoms that you have reported in the past, and thus keeps track of whether certain symptoms are related to any other complaints. A disadvantage is that the app is currently only available in English, but because the makers have received a financial injection of 47 million dollars, it is quite possible that the app will soon be translated into Dutch.

An enormous amount of medical data has been collected for this app in recent years

Tip 06: More in balance

Breath in breath out. A healthier life also means reducing stress and scheduling occasional breaks and free time. A good way to bring calmness into your life is to install one of the hundreds of mindfulness apps. A good choice is Stop, Breathe & Think. This app teaches you how to meditate. And not like a guru on a mountain, but just in the office, at home or when you're on the train. Through simple exercises you learn how to relax during a busy day. The app wants to know how you feel about yourself and provides a number of options based on this data. These do not have to be meditation sessions, but can also be small assignments. For example, you have to walk outside for four minutes while listening to a voice in the app. Unfortunately, the app is only available in English. Other good apps are The Mindfulness App and Headspace, but these apps cost quite a bit after a free trial.

Based on your chosen goal, the app creates a notification schedule

Tip 07: Motivation coach

Are you generally difficult to motivate? Then you need a real motivation app. In iOS, choose the Strides Habit Tracker app. You tap the plus sign and indicate a new goal. We're just suggesting something: get up earlier, read more or manage your money better. The app creates a notification schedule based on your chosen goal. You indicate how often you want to read a book per day or how much money you want to save per week. It is important that you set a start and end date for your goals and that they are not too long. This way you have an easy overview of whether a goal has been achieved. For Android there is the app Habitica. This works a little differently, as it turns your goals into a game of sorts, including Super Mario-esque characters. Once you have achieved a goal, certain in-game updates will become available. You can invite your friends in the app and set and achieve common goals.

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