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5 iPhone Free Apps for Better Health

5 iPhone Free Apps for Better Health

When making changes for a healthier lifestyle, it helps to have some assistance. Technology makes accessing information easier than ever and offers a way to track progress and be held accountable.

Mobile applications are no longer a phenomenon; they are part of daily life for many. In June 2012, the Apple Store surpassed the 30 billion app dowload mark—more than doubling the 10 billion app download mark achieved in January 2011. As of September 2012, iOS development news and information source 148Apps.biz reported more than 700,000 active apps currently available for download. There are thousands in the Health and Fitness category. Many are free.

Here are five top-downloaded health care and fitness apps to help jumpstart your health-and-fitness aspirations. They cover everything from determining ideal body weight to calorie counting and goal and workout tracking. Best of all, they won’t cost you a dime!

1. Nike+ Running

Whether you run for fun, fitness or both, you’ll appreciate this running partner from Nike. Nike+ Running is free and doesn’t require a sensor or additional products to be purchased. It may be used on a trail or treadmill to record distance, pace and time while providing in-run audio feedback to keep you posted. Customizing your profile with height, weight and gender can help improve the accuracy of your tracking results.

If you need a little extra motivation, Nike+ Running allows you to broadcast when you’ve started a run to Facebook and Path and share your route. A function called PowerSongs allows you to import your favorite tunes and summon a little audio encouragement with the press of a finger.

2. MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

How did anyone count calories before technology came to the rescue? With so many iPhone apps willing to do the work for you, writing down your meals on a piece of paper only to painstakingly look up each item in a reference guide later is a thing of the past.

MyFitnessPal takes a comprehensive approach with diary entries for not only mealtimes, but also cardiovascular and strength workouts, water intake and food and exercise notes. This app allows users to set goals based on weight, height, daily lifestyle, frequency and length of workouts and the number of pounds they wish to lose each week. Progress may be tracked from week to week, a daily nutrient intake recap allows you to see where you’re exceeding recommendations, falling short or hitting the sweet spot.

This app boasts the largest food database of any calorie counter—over 2 million foods. It’s been a PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice selection as well as a Wired Magazine’s Editor’s Pick for Lifestyle Apps. It can be synced with Withings, Fitbit, runtsastic, Edomondo, Bodymedia, and other popular apps and devices.

3. Fooducate

Establishing new health habits means changing food-shopping habits. And there’s an app to assist you. With Fooducate, you simply scan product barcodes, and the app provides analyzes the nutritional information and ingredients to provide feedback including a grade, number of calories per serving and a few facts about the item—is it 100 percent whole grain, does it contain high-fructose corn syrup, etc.

To help you make wise decisions with ease, this shopping sidekick allows you to compare products and also recommends more nutritious options. It even provides FoodPoints values for dieters. Users can indicate if they like or dislike a product, for future reference, and they can even share their findings via Facebook, Twitter or email. Fooducate’s database contains hundreds of thousands of products and continues to expand.

Fooducate has more than 200,000 UPCs in its database. This longtime favorite has earned the Best of the iPhone Health & Fitness Category honors; 1st prize in the US Surgeon General’s Healthy Apps Challenge; recommendations by dietitians, physicians and fitness gurus; and mentions in Oprah, USAToday, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.

4. Workout Trainer

Have you ever wished you could hire a personal trainer to introduce some new moves to your tired workout routine? Are you just starting to add regular exercise to your week but don’t know where to begin? This app provides free, guided audio workouts with step-by-step instructions.

The workouts range from casual to intense and include routines for circuit training, cardio, yoga, full-body, and target areas such as abs, but and arms. Some moves are even demonstrated by video to help you with proper form. Users can select different trainers, play music from their own iTunes playlist and share workout with other users and friends.

Workout Trainer includes more than 1,000 workouts and allows users to create their own routines, which means plenty of variety—you can even set some preferences and “shake” for a random routine. Lengths range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, which means something to accommodate even the most time-crunched users. This app practically makes fitness possible wherever your iPhone goes—whether you’re looking to fit in a quick routine during lunch break, breaking a sweat from your living room or traveling without access to a gym.

5. Healthy Habits

Forming new habits means repeating behaviors consistently over time. And, you guessed it, there’s an app for that, too!

Healthy Habits brings an individualized approach to goal setting. Maybe you want to bring a nutritious lunch to work each day, sleep for a certain number of hours each night, limit your caffeine intake or read the news every morning, this app picks up where calorie-counting and fitness-tracking apps fall short.

Healthy Habits is an easy-to-use, motivational tool to help hold you accountable to other aspects of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. You may track one habit or several, record the actions you take and follow your progress. Select your habits from a library or create a custom habit. You then indicate whether you are making or breaking the habit, select a frequency, set reminders and include motivations, strategies and incentives. Graphs and charts help you track your progress over time.