Best free stuff, 2013 edition: The augmented health nut
By Brad Chacos, Daniel Ionescu, Ian Paul and Jared Newman
The Augmented Health Nut
An iron will and a gym membership might work for some folks who are trying to stay in shape, but the rest of us might need a little extra help. To achieve and maintain that healthy lifestyle, don’t hesitate to lean on some of these free tech tools.
If you’re looking to trim some fat, Lose Itcan help. Start by setting up some weight-loss goals, and then use the website or mobile apps (Android and iOS) to record your food intake. Lose It keeps track of all the nutritional details, and gives you a daily calorie budget to stay within. You can also connect with friends who are using the app to help motivate each other, and earn badges that mark your progress.
To help out with the healthy eating, check out Fooducate, a website and free app for iOS and Android that steers you toward food that’s good for you. Fooducate em–ploys a grading system that rewards foods that are minimally processed and nutrient-dense, and calls out key details such as the presence of controversial artificial sweeteners or ample whole grains. With the mobile apps, a health tracker lets you know how well you’re eating overall.
Of course, a healthy diet is only part of the equation. For exercise, use RunKeeper to keep track of activities such as running, cycling, hiking, and biking. Apps for Android and iOS use your phone’s GPS to measure your pace and distance traveled, and to estimate how many calories you’ve burned. The apps also provide audio cues during your workout and let you control music playback. RunKeeper integrates with other apps and devices, such as the Withings scale and Fitbit band, to provide a detailed picture of your health.
Even if you can’t get out of the house, you can exercise at home with Skimble’s Workout Trainer for Android and iOS. These free apps include photos and videos for all kinds of exercise routines that you can do at home—from push-ups and squats to yoga—along with audio that will help you along the way. You can also create your own workout routines, share them with friends, and find recommended workouts from the community. When you’ve completed your workout, log in to the Skimble.com website to see how you did.
After all that exercise, you’ll want to make sure that you’re recharging properly. A free Android app called SleepBot can lend a diagnostic hand. Just place your smartphone next to your pillow, and the app will track your movements and sounds through the night to figure out how long you slept. (On a slightly creepy note, the app can even record audio so you can play back your snores and sleep-talking.) When it’s time for you to wake up, SleepBot tries to wait until you’re in a light-sleep phase of your sleep cycle before sounding the alarm.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.