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Apps make it easier than ever to get fit and healthy

KANDY CHILDRESS • Jan 11, 2019 at 6:30 PM

The meteoric rise of healthrelated apps makes it easier than ever to get and stay healthy. There are more than 100,000 health apps, most of which are available through the Apple app and Google Play stores, with about 1,000 more being created every month. According to recent research, participants who used fitness apps were much more active compared to nonusers and — get this — even had a lower body mass index.

Apps help people overcome barriers, like a lack of understanding or organization, which leads to better exercise habits. Over time, these improved habits can mean big changes. The most popular apps employ the application of game principles like competition or cooperation that play to motivations —such as desire for mastery — all in the service of inspiring people to make better decisions that ultimately lead to improved health outcomes.

HERE ARE HEALTHY KINGSPORT’S TOP PICKS FOR FREE, HEALTH-RELATED APPS:

Walker Tracker — This app — used by Healthy Kingsport to log, track, and aggregate steps for our 3 Million Mile Challenge features a user interface that makes connecting to our community’s bold physical activity goal quick and easy. It takes less than 60 seconds to set up your user profile, which gives you the option of performing a one-time synch with wearable fitness devices (Fitbit, Apple watch, Garmin, Jawbone, etc.) or connecting with other fitness apps (Google Fit, Apple Health and Move).

Walker Tracker even has a built-in converter that includes more than 100 activities — walking, housework, elliptical training, yard work, bicycling and more — to ensure all physical activity is captured and converted into steps then miles, all of which counts toward our community’s goal to reach 3 million miles of physical activity in a year’s time. Like all great apps, Walker Tracker uses the game principle of competition to spur participants to reach and exceed personal and team fitness goals. Data mined from Walker Tracker enables Healthy Kingsport to rank both individuals and teams on leaderboards resident on the Healthy Kingsport website (www.healthykingsport.org).

Connecting to other participants and friends via built-in message boards gives individuals the option of sending an encouraging word or the gentle nudge to get moving. And users can track how well they eat on a given day using a friendly, selfrating scale; how much water has been consumed; and mindfulness through rating both sleep and mood. There is even a feature dedicated to building and maintaining a healthy weight. As we well know, “What gets measured gets managed.”

8Fit — For someone who’s never worked out or is out of shape, this is perfect for beginners! Get a 100 percent customized fitness plan with this app. You won’t do the same fitness routine every day; 8Fit switches it up and offers free music! The app also teaches you how to do the exercises through “how-to” videos.

Fooducate — Be more aware of the food you are putting into your body with this app! Go to the grocery store, scan an item, and the app will give the user a letter rating based on its nutrition contents and ingredients. It will also list more nutritious alternatives to that product.

Zombies, Run! — There’s no greater motivation to get in shape than running from zombies! The app gives you a narrative to listen to as you run, and you change your pace according to the story. You can adjust the settings to your liking. If you want to run faster more often, choose more zombie attacks!

YouFood — This app allows you to take pictures of everything you eat and log it. You can follow other people and find new recipes. It holds you accountable, and it also has additional features like water tracking and goal setting. One user said, “The community that I’ve connected with on this app is so wonderful and supportive, and it’s a great way to visualize your food and see how you can improve!”

The bottom line: Embrace the game-playing features built into today’s most popular apps to get and stay healthy.

Kandy Childress is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport and can be reached at [email protected] healthykingsport.org .

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