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6 Ways your phone can actually make you healthier

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






Put your phone to work and boost your overall health with these handy tools

You carry that thing with you wherever you go, so why not squeeze every bit of help your smartphone can offer when it comes to your health and fitness?

From monitoring your body functions to connecting you with a community for support, you might be surprised by all the ways your phone could make you healthier every day.

1. Health monitoring

Once considered a "biometric" promise of some distant future, now smartphones can constantly monitor and track body functions from sleep quality to blood pressure. Smartphones in recent trials have proven to be just as accurate at monitoring health as high-end wearables like Fitbit and others.

Combining smartphone technology with high-end wearable electronics, tech burgeoning companies like Scanadu are using sensors to read your vital signs and send them wirelessly to a smartphone anywhere. This could prove game-changing for remote health monitoring and even bringing life-saving health care to remote areas without doctors or equipment.

Keeping a watchful eye on certain patterns in your health — depending on your specific health issues — can go a long way to helping maintain your overall health and well-being, and a smartphone is a powerful tool that’s always at your disposal.

2. Inspiration

Getting motivated to tackle your health every day can be a tough task. That’s why there are oceans of web space devoted to fitness inspiration, all easily browsable from your smartphone. There are fitness Instagram accounts, stories and videos about overcoming obstacles and even apps that will push motivational messages and quotes to help get you on the right track.

For those who need something a bit more high-stakes, there are apps like Pact that let you wager on whether you’ll stick to your fitness commitments. Fall short and it could cost you. Hey, sometimes you need negative consequences to get motivated.

3. Social support

Smartphones are a like a little hand-sized portal that lets us find and communicate with almost anyone in the world instantaneously and that kind of connectivity can go a long way to improving health. Social support in and of itself can beat stress and make you a healthier person. But putting the power of social connection behind any intention to improve your health is a way to get better results. One study from CDC (Centers for Disease Control) found a direct correlation between a lack of social and family support for healthy eating habits and elevated BMI (body mass index) levels. So whether you’re looking for strategies to live with diabetes or a group to swap gym stories with, seeking out groups of people like you on social media can help.

Another new tech company, called WellSquad, has just launched a fitness app to help match people up with their ideal workout buddy. WellSquad says they’ve created an algorithm much like those used on dating sites like Match.com to pair people off based on their fitness levels and goals — all in a strictly platonic way, of course.

4. Personal training

Turn your phone into a personal trainer with one of the many apps on the market designed to push you toward your fitness goals and give you new ideas and exercises to help get you there. Get advice from experts like football player Tony Gonzales with personal trainer apps like the FitStar Personal Trainer app. Apps like Jetfit will help you design a personalized weight-lifting workout and even keep track of your reps and weights.

5. Diet and weight loss

Your phone can quickly become one of your most important tools in the battle of the bulge if you know where to look. Apps like Lose It! help you track calories, but will also look at what you’re eating and make suggestions, like maybe cutting out some of the sugar or upping your intake of other vitamins or minerals. There are also plenty of healthy eating blogs and sites out there to give you all sorts of recipe ideas to help get you to your goals.

6. Mental health

Just like your physical health, your phone can help you take care of your mental well-being too. Talk privately to a therapist from your phone through the TalkSpace app. Track your moods with mobile health app MoodTune, designed to help with depression. And when you find yourself in a particularly stressful of anxiety-filled situation, reach for your phone and play games on Personal Zen designed specifically to get you to focus on something more positive.

This post was brought to you by HORMEL® Natural Choice® Lunchmeats.

More on smartphones and your health

7 Apps that will turn exercise into a heart-pumping game
5 Incredibly cool ways your smartphone can keep you healthy
What happens when you take away people's smartphones?

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