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5 of the best health apps

Health and fitness are one of the top categories in the app store, and it’s easy to see why these kinds of apps are so popular.

With many of us struggling to find the time and motivation to start and maintain healthy habits like exercising and cooking healthy meals, apps promise to lend a helping hand in what can seem like an overwhelming task.

In fact, health apps can do much more than just track calories or give you access to workouts. You can also organize your health records and prescriptions, track your sleep and activity levels, monitor and manage stress levels, and even take proactive steps towards better health by achieving goals like quitting smoking.

Take a look at one of the popular app stores, and you might feel a little overwhelmed at the sheer volume of options available. In fact, a 2017 report found that there were 318,000 health apps available on top app stores worldwide, with a further 200 health apps being added each day.

To help you narrow your search, here are five of our favourite health apps, in no particular order:

Headspace

When it comes to overall health, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Managing stress isn’t just about good mental health. Excessive stress can have an effect on your body in other ways, like causing digestive problems including diarrhoea, bloating or constipation, impacting on your sleep, or even having a negative effect on your immune health.

Headspace is a meditation app that aims to help make you happier, assist you in managing your stress levels, and even help you to sleep better. It uses the principle of mindfulness, with guided meditations on everything from productivity, exercise and physical health, through to anxiety and sleep. There are even specific meditations and programs for kids, so the whole family can make use of the app.

Best of all, Headspace is backed by research. A review by the Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology evaluated 23 popular mindfulness apps using an expert rating scale and found Headspace to be the top-scoring app. One study found that only 10 days of Headspace reduced stress by 14%, while another found that three weeks of Headspace increased compassion by 23% and reduced aggression by 57%.

The takeaway? If you’re someone who would like to learn skills to manage the stress in your life, Headspace can help by teaching you mindfulness practices.

MedAdvisor

If you or someone in your household takes prescription medication, then you’re all too familiar with how challenging it can be to keep track of your prescriptions, order your medications, remember to see your GP for repeats, remember when to take the correct dosage, and keep track of your medication information.

MedAdvisor is the app that makes it easy to organise all of your medications and scripts on your smartphone, tablet, or PC. It uses technology to provide you with a tool that helps to ensure that you use your medication safely, effectively and on-time.

The app’s home screen makes it easy to see all of your prescription medications, see details of scripts, repeats and supply left, as well as medication information. Get reminders when it’s time to take your medication, fill your script and visit your GP for replacement prescriptions.

You can even use MedAdvisor to order your script and skip the queue when you arrive at the pharmacy. To get started, simply download the app, file your scripts at the pharmacy, and grab a unique activation code from your pharmacist.

Sleep Cycle

Did you know that nearly 40% of adult patients in Australia experience some kind of inadequate sleep? A lack of sleep is linked to developing diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Not to mention, not getting enough sleep can impact our ability to think clearly and make good decisions, our body weight, and, of course, make you feel tired and irritable throughout the day.

If you’re waking up tired in the morning, snore loudly, have daytime headaches or find yourself making frequent trips to the toilet during the night, you could be experiencing something called obstructive sleep apnea. At Capital Chemist, we offer a sleep service that can help you to figure out whether you’re suffering from this sleep disorder.

If you’d like to improve your sleep, one of the first steps you can take is monitoring how many hours a night that you’re sleeping, and the quality of your sleep. Sleep Cycle is an app that analyses your sleep patterns, determines the best time for you to wake up, and gently wakes you with an alarm clock. While the accuracy of the information can’t be guaranteed, it can be a good starting point to track your sleep and work towards improving it over time.

Quit Now: My Quit Buddy

The smoke that’s inhaled from cigarettes contains substances that cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema. Most people are aware of the health risks that smoking poses to not only themselves, but also those around them. That being said, the nicotine in cigarettes is extremely addictive, making it very challenging for people to quit smoking.

The good news is that it’s always a good time to quit smoking and improve your health, and the Quit Now: My Quit Buddy app could help to get you there. The app provides distractions and useful tips to help you to overcome cravings, as well as tools to help you chart your progress. It will even send you alerts to mark your progress and help you stay motivated along the way.

You can also call the Quitline directly from the app if you need more support, and nominate friends or family members who you can call in the moments that you’re struggling.

Pacer

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining good overall health and minimising your risk of chronic disease. Unfortunately, Australia’s 2017-2018 National Health Survey found that only 15% of 18-64-year-olds met the physical activity and muscle strengthening aspects of the guidelines set out by the Department of Health. Walking might only be one aspect of physical activity, but it can go a long way to helping you build up your activity levels over the course of a day.

While the Pacer app has a range of features, it’s primary purpose is to track your activity levels throughout the day. You can track your walks, runs and bike rides, and monitor your performance as you work towards becoming more active over time. Analysing your movement in this way can help you to identify patterns, for example, days or times of day when you tend to be most sedentary and motivate you to change your behaviour.

For more information on health apps, visit the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation’s Healthy Living Apps Guide, or speak to your local pharmacist.



  
 
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