Advertising
Advertising

4 Types of Gadgets and Apps For Tracking Your Health

4 Types of Gadgets and Apps For Tracking Your Health

Let’s face it, It doesn’t take much more than a pair of eyes to notice that life in the modern world is having a negative impact on our health. Many of us sit behind a desk for 40 hours a week, eat nutritionally bankrupt convenience foods in outrageous quantities and spend our free time watching TV and browsing the web for adorable pictures of cats, yet we cannot comprehend why good health seems to be alluding us. Here are some technological tools that we can use to get a handle on our health and combat the obesity epidemic.

Wearable Activity Trackers

The best activity trackers are those that work passively, without any interaction on the user’s part, and for this reason, we recommend bracelet style trackers above those that clip to your clothing. Case in point, one of my friends owns a footstep counter that he has to manually put on every morning, and while he and I live similarly active lives, I consistently beat his weekly step count because he inevitably forgets to wear his at least a couple of times per week, whereas my bracelet style tracker never leaves my wrist, I sleep with it and wear it in the pool and shower.

While there are several options available that fit the bill, two of the most widely used devices are the Fitbit Flex and the Jawbone UP24. Both devices are fairly similar, they track footsteps, calories burned and sleep quality and they both break down that information into useful metrics and graphs. Here’s a breakdown of what sets each device apart:

Fitbit Flex – $99.99 (from Fitbit)

fitbit-flex-xl

    Pros

    *Syncs automatically in the background (via a Bluetooth dongle on your computer and/or built in Bluetooth functionality on the iPhone and select Android devices)

    *Larger userbase, better chance that some of your friends use a Fitbit (which opens up the door for some friendly step-count competition)

    *Display allows you to see approximately how far through your selected goal you currently are

    Advertising

    *Comfortable bracelet design with several swapable band colors available

    *Waterproof (I wear mine while swimming 3x a week)

    Cons

    *The band has a tendency to crack from removing and reinserting the actual fitbit unit

    *Only syncs with a handful of Android devices (Compatibility list here)

    *The mobile app is fairly simple and lacks a few features that are available online.

    Jawbone UP24 – $149.00 (from Jawbone)

    JawboneUP24

      Pros

      *Mobile app is excellent, undoubtedly better than the current iteration of the Fitbit mobile app

      Advertising

      *Wireless Background syncing (with recently added Android support) and manual syncing via your phone’s headphone jack

      *Subjectively, many feel that the UP is a more stylish device that looks more like a bracelet and is slimmer than the Fitbit Flex

      Cons

      *Expensive

      *There have been some anecdotal reports of syncing issues

      *Band color is not changeable

      *Somewhat limited Android support (Compatibility list here)

      Bottom Line: Buy the device that fits your fashion sense and budget. Other trackers to keep an eye on are the Nike+ FuelBand and the Withings Pulse O2. Personally, I own the Flex and have been very happy with it, especially since it syncs with my Fitbit Aria smart scale. Speaking of that…

      Advertising

      Smart Scales

      While it is true that weight is just a number, taking regular measurements are a great way to gauge progress and stay motivated.

      Aria Smart Scale – $129.95 (from Fitbit)

      Fitbit Aria

        When my wife bought me the Fitbit Aria smart scale for our last anniversary, I received a plethora of comments to the effect of, “That’s awesome…. but I bet she wouldn’t have been too happy if you bought her a scale, lol.” Outdated gender stereotypes aside, this scale is fantastic and any gift that helps your loved one to improve their health is a sign of true affection.

        So, what makes this scale so smart? The Aria syncs to your WiFi network and updates your weight and body fat percentage to the Fitbit dashboard, which, if you have another Fitbit product, you are already using. It can also sync to popular food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal. The Aria can automatically recognize up to 8 different users and track their weights, uploading the measurements to the correct accounts, the user needs to do nothing more than step on the scale with barefeet (necessary to measure body fat). Visually, the Aria is gorgeous, with a sleek minimalist design that looks great in any bathroom.

        If the Aria isn’t for you, check out the Withing Smart Body Analyzer.

        Diet Tracker

        Diet is arguably the most critical single factor contributing to a person’s overall health and well-being. Much as carefully tracking your spending can, in and of itself, help to avoid making unnecessary, high cost purchases, the careful tracking of your caloric intake can help to avoid binging on high calorie, low nutrition foods.

        MyFitnessPal – Free (Available on most mobile platforms)

        Advertising

        MyFitnessPal

          Having tried most food trackers currently available, I can say with a fair degree of confidence that MyFitnessPal is the most complete and comprehensive option available. MFP has a very large database of foods, making it possible to quickly input your meals with a high level of accuracy. You can quickly scan in premade foods via their barcodes, create and save your own frequently eaten meals and even manually set your macro nutrient goals (Protein, Fat and Carbs). In addition, MFP syncs with a ton of other fitness apps, including most of the popular activity trackers and smart scales.

          If MyFitnessPal is not for you, check out Noom.

          Exercise Tracker

          While a wearable tracker like the Fitbit Flex or the Jawbone UP24 are fantastic for tracking general activity, they are not ideal for keeping track of your progress while engaging in exercise activities like running, biking, hiking and the like.

          Runtastic – Free for basic version, $4.99 for Pro (Available on all major mobile platforms)

          runtastic-app

            Runtastic is capable of tracking a host of physical activities and providing useful feedback. Runtastic maps your activity, provides a breakdown of your pace, allows you to easily challenge yourself or others using the app. Runtastic can also sync with your music library, so that you can listen to your workout playlist while still receiving informative and encouraging prompts from the app in the form of a coach that speaks to you through your headphones based on your personal preferences. You can even set a Powersong that the app will play when you need a boost. Overall the free version of the app provides some excellent features, but I think the Pro version is well worth the money.

            Don’t love Runtastic as much as we do, check out Runkeeper or Endomondo.

            While buying a couple of products and downloading some apps is not going to automatically transform you from Chris Farley to Channing Tatum, accurately tracking your activity level and progress might be just what you need to get off the couch and start improving your life. Check out this awesome article for 7 ways to sneak exercise into your busy schedule.

            More by this author

            10 Weird Things Brought to you by Climate Change 10 Health Benefits Of Watermelon That Make It The Perfect Summer Fruit Every Man Should Know About These 12 Shaving Tips 25 Things You Can Do With The Cost Of Raising A Child 5 Apps To Start And Run A Blog Entirely From Your Phone

            Trending in Health

            112 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory 2How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine 38 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian 410 Amazing Health Benefits Of Beer 5Say Goodbye to a Skinny Body: How to Gain Weight Fast

            Read Next

            Advertising
            Advertising

            12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

            12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

            Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

            But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

            I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

            Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

            1. Nuts

            The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

            Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

            Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

            Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

            Advertising

            2. Blueberries

            Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

            When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

            3. Tomatoes

            Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

            4. Broccoli

            While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

            Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

            Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

            5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

            Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

            The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

            Advertising

            Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

            6. Soy

            Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

            Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

            Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

            7. Dark chocolate

            When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

            Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

            15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

            8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

            Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

            Advertising

            B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

            Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

            Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

            To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

            9. Foods Rich in Zinc

            Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

            Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

            Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

            10. Gingko biloba

            This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

            Advertising

            It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

            However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

            11. Green and black tea

            Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

            Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

            Find out more about green tea here:

            11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

            12. Sage and Rosemary

            Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

            Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

            When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

            Read Next