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How to Make Wellness Apps Work For You (and the ones we recommend)

Remember the days when you had to sign up for classes at your local gym in order to get fit? Or way back when you needed to seek out a guru just to learn to meditate? Well, those days are long gone thanks to an influx of wellness apps, and chances are you have at least a couple on your phone right now.

But how do we use these apps properly so we can really maximize their effectiveness?

And which ones are worth our time (and the hype)?

We did some digging, and broke the overwhelming amount of wellness apps down into four key categories: Diet, mental wellness, fitness, and brain health. Read on to discover what we learned.

DIET APPS

We figured we’d start with this category seeing as it’s firmly in our wheelhouse. There are a multitude of dietary apps available now, from calories counters to meal planning apps and ones that provide nutritional education. Once you’ve determined what you need a diet app for (weight loss, macro tracking, food diary etc.) then you can check out the best ones for you. Make sure you’re honest with yourself in terms of usability. Is this an app you see yourself using every day? Does it feel too complicated, meaning you’re more likely to lose interest quickly? Usability is everything, so find one that resonates with your style of learning. Here are some we like:

My Fitness Pal

We love this app because it is highly intuitive and pretty simple to use. Once you’ve started tracking your food intake and exercise output, it starts to learn from you and gets easier to manage the longer you use it. In terms of accountability for weight loss, this one is an easy go-to. Better still, it’s free.

Cost: Free

Noom

Noom is a different kind of weight loss app in that it focuses on making behavioral changes surrounding dieting and weight loss. This is a great app if you have the time to invest upfront, as there is a lot of education and even quizzes. It also provides support and feedback from the millions of other people using the program, which is a great boost for some personality types that thrive on social sharing and community.

Cost: Free or up to $59/month

PlateJoy

Touted as “Healthy eating for busy people,” this meal planning app seems to do it all, and then some! Personalize your eating plan (right down to food allergies and special dietary plans such as keto) and let PlateJoy do the (delicious) meal planning, grocery list preparation, and even grocery delivery (by sending your list to Instacart of Amazon Fresh) for you. It even learns what you have in your pantry already so you don’t order ingredients you don’t need. This app saves you time, money, and gives you plenty of culinary inspiration. Just don’t forget to include “bone broth” as one of your favorite drinks!

Cost: $8-$12/month (does not include food)

MENTAL WELLNESS APPS

Mental wellness is such an important aspect of self-care that we are thrilled there are so many apps out there now to support us all. Whether you are looking for a little meditation assistance, an actionable guide to working through depression, or even online therapy, there is something out there for you.

Headspace

We love how these guys talk about being “Kind to your mind.” We all need to quiet our monkey brains sometimes and learn to create space in our minds. This app provides guided meditations, articles, videos, and more to help you chill out — even if you only have 5 minutes to dedicate to it. We think this app (or its competitor Calm) is a must have for pretty much everyone.

Cost: $12.99/month

Talkspace

Talk therapy has gone virtual, and we think it’s a great thing. In today’s busy world where so many services can now be offered virtually, it was only a matter of time before therapy entered the online space. This app allows you to do a quick admission questionnaire then search for the right therapist for you. You can customize your plan depending on your needs and lifestyle, but importantly, you can have 24/7 access to support without leaving your living room. Making therapy accessible for everyone? That’s a win in our books.

Cost: From $260-400/month

Happify

Could you do with a little help when it comes to living in the moment, feeling more gratitude for what you do have (rather than focusing on what you don’t), and just being more, well, happy? Then this is the app for you! Deploying a blend of positive psychology, CBT, and mindfulness, the app uses engaging activities and games that can be done from the ease of your phone. 

Cost: Free or upgrade to paid version for $11.99/month

FITNESS APPS

We are big fans of fitness apps. They mean we can spend less time in the gym by working out from our own homes, backyards, or even the local park. These are some of the ones we’ve tried and think are worth exploring.

7 Minute Fitness Challenge

The name says it all for this one. In just 7 minutes a day, you can transform your body and elevate your fitness levels by following the programs on this app. The clever people behind this app put together 12 exercises that can be performed in seven minutes but achieve the equivalent of an hour’s workout. If you do them to the best of your abilities (high-intensity) and rest very little in between, the 7 Minute Workout effectively increases your metabolism, so the benefit is in effect throughout the day.

Cost: $2.99/month

Glo

Yoga and pilates are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay a fortune for in person instruction. This app gives you unlimited access to yoga and pilates classes anytime you want with 4000+ on demand classes, or go for the live classes where you can work with your favorite instructors. 

Cost: $18.99/month

Strava

If you’re a cyclist or a runner, this app is a must. Known as the “social network for athletes”, Strava uses activity tracking technology and allows you to upload your runs or bike rides, follow other athletes (and comment on their feats), join clubs and challenges, and create your own routes. While being able to see your own achievements is motivating, working within a peer-to-peer athletic network takes that up a notch.

Cost: Free or upgrade to Strava Summit for $5/month

BRAIN HEALTH APPS

If you feel like a little brain training would go a long way, you’ll be pleased to learn there’s an app for that. In fact, there are many, but we’ve narrowed the list down to our three favorite apps for sharpening our senses and enhancing our memory. 

Lumosity

Improve focus? Check. Sharpen memory? Also check. This app works by providing brain training personalized to you through cognitive training exercises that feel like games. Go ahead — call them brain games… There’s nothing wrong with having some fun along the way.

Cost: $11.99/month

Eidetic

This is a really interesting brain training app in that it uses a technique called spaced repetition to help you memorize anything from important phone numbers to interesting words or facts. Think back to flashcard theory for an idea of how this works. We think that any app that helps us remember our kids’ phone numbers is a winner, so this made our list.

Cost: $4.99/month

Cognito

Do you dig games that transport you to imaginary worlds while also sharpening your senses? Then you’ll love Cognito — an app that takes you on a secret agent story around the world and even assesses your personality traits. It even takes your sleep data from other apps and translates that into how sleep affects your performance.

Cost: $7.99/mont

So go ahead, pull your phone out and explore the wonderful world of wellness apps available to you. Most of them have free trials, so kick them off at a time you know you can dedicate some energy to seeing if they are the right fit for you or not. Happy apping!

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