Health Apps to Maintain Your New Year’s Resolution
Do you have a New Year’s resolution that already feels a bit off track? The good news is there are more digital tools than ever at our disposal to help us achieve our health and wellness goals. If you are struggling to stay organized, keep motivated or measure your progress, a digital health device or tracking app may be a solution that’s worth exploring.
The beauty of health tech is that it is designed to integrate into our lives, not the other way around. By wearing a small device or downloading an app onto our phones, we can begin to collect real-time data on our health habits.
Measuring the number of steps that you take each day by yourself is completely unrealistic. But with a pedometer, you can know exactly how active (or inactive) you are. And with this knowledge, you can change specific habits or behaviors by making small adjustments rather than sweeping reforms.
As technology continues to transform our lives, there are a number of terrific options to help you track and compare your fitness goals. As the first health system in the country to introduce the concept of a ‘genius bar’ in a healthcare setting, Ochsner Health has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to digital medicine. The O Bar uses interactive health technology to help people navigate their health through doctor-approved apps, activity trackers and other devices.
With nine O Bar locations and counting, we are experts at identifying and “prescribing” health apps to help you achieve your goals. Below are some of the free options that we often recommend along with their key features.
Healthy Eating and Shopping
Fooducate is a free health tracker that allows you to track what you eat and measure your activities. It looks beyond calorie counts to deliver a personalized nutrition grade that reveals information found in nutrition panels.
- Scans over 250,000 product barcodes to deliver a personalized nutrition grade (A, B, C, or D).
- Offers suggestions for healthy options based on the foods you scan.
- Community features allow users to ask questions and provide feedback.
Fooducate also analyzes information found in product nutrition panels and ingredient lists, such as:
- Added sugars
- Tricky trans-fats
- High fructose corn syrup
- Monosodium glutamate or MSG
- Controversial food colorings
- Additives and preservatives
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
Shopwell is another great free resource that allows users to scan products to see how they match up to their personal food profiles. Foods are given a personalized score between 1-100 based on dietary preferences, gender and age. The app will also recommend better matches based on what you are looking for, whether that’s an option lower in sugar or gluten-free.
- Scan products to get personalized food scores.
- Take your healthy grocery list to the store.
- Find foods that match your needs. This is a great feature for those who have food allergies or want to avoid certain foods.
- Get nutrition facts and ingredients.
MyFitnessPal is a very popular food and exercise tracking app, with over 11 million foods in its database. It integrates with over 50 other health apps, so it can serve as your personalized food tracker while also connecting with other health trackers like FitBit.
- Largest food database of any calorie counter, with over 300,000,000 items and counting.
- Easiest and fastest food entry. MyFitnessPal remembers your favorites, adds multiple foods at once, saves and adds entire meals and more.
- Built-in step tracker. iPhone and Android users can track steps right from their phone, so no separate tracker is required.
- A barcode scanner allows users to track a food just by scanning its barcode.
- Tracks all major nutrients including calories, fat, protein, carbs, sugar, fiber, cholesterol and more.
Map My Fitness is powered by Under Armour and serves as a fitness training app and GPS fitness tracker. Using your location, this app can help you measure your daily running distance, calories burned, elevation and more.
- Map My Fitness can track workouts, running, cycling, walking and includes a calorie counter. It also includes over 600 different types of workouts, where users can join challenges, connect devices and view activity data.
- Allows you to add your athletic shoes to start tracking mileage with Gear Tracker. This feature provides additional insights like how to avoid common injuries and will even send notifications when it’s time for a new pair of sneakers.
- Allows you to record GPS-based workouts with customizable voice feedback for precise stats like pace, route, distance, calorie burn, elevation profile and more.
- You can also sync your account with other health and nutrition apps like MyFitnessPal and Google Fit.
Managing Your Health
MyChart is Ochsner Health’s electronic medical record system, which allows you to access all of your health information including test results, prescriptions, upcoming appointments and medical history in one easy-to-use portal. If you are an Ochsner patient, I highly recommend creating a MyChart account! Our specific version is called MyOchsner.
MyOchsner very simple to use, and you can even communicate with your provider’s office directly through the messaging app if you have questions or need to request information.
- Connects directly to your electronic medical record at Ochsner Health. MyOchsner stores all of your medical records safely in one place where you can access them whenever you need to.
- You can use MyOchsner to communicate directly with your physician, make and view upcoming and past appointments and view test results.
- MyOchsner users can also electronically request a prescription refill, without having to pick up the phone or visit your doctor’s office.
- Virtual visits are even available through MyOchsner. This means you can have a traditional visit with your physician electronically using a mobile or tablet with a front-facing camera.
Ochsner Anywhere Care is another convenient digital health management resource that offers immediate access to a healthcare provider from your smartphone, tablet or computer. The app is available for iOS and Android devices and is perfect for people who need to speak with a doctor quickly without traveling to an office or clinic.
Anywhere Care visits are ideal for treating common, minor illnesses and ailments that don’t require a trip to the ER or urgent care. This app is also a terrific option for those with unreliable transportation, where getting to and from the doctor’s office is challenging or if you live in a place where the closest provider is far away.
- See a doctor face-to-face anytime, anyplace without having to leave home or work.
- Shorter wait times for your appointment. Anywhere Care wait times average about 10 minutes or less before you see your doctor.
- Visits are easy, private and secure. Your doctor will also be able to access your electronic medical records which allow for high-quality and coordinated care.
- Behavioral health appointments for things like anxiety, insomnia, depression and grief counseling are available through Ochsner Anywhere Care.
iHealth My Vitals allows you to track your key vitals like blood pressure, weight, glucose and other readings. The app stores your health information in an easy-to-read format, and also provides instant access to your measurements. This app is very helpful for allowing you to see how you are really doing versus your health goals.
- Automatically tracks and manages your key health vitals all in one place.
- This is really great for someone who needs to monitor blood pressure and pulse due to an underlying condition.
Whatever app you choose, I wish you the best of luck as you pursue your New Year’s resolutions this year!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Jan. 4, 2018.
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