26 April 2022

    Wanita Nicol

    7 Ways Your Phone Can Help You Live Healthier

    Did you know your phone is like a multi-tool for finally getting on top of your healthy lifestyle goals? Here’s how to unlock its potential.  

    Your phone is good for a lot more than serving up cat videos. Here are seven health goals it can help you reach.

    1. Get fitter

    The pandemic forced the fitness industry to undergo a – let’s be honest, long overdue – rapid adoption of technology. Great news for anyone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to join a gym, but still wants to get fit! A bunch of great fitness apps give you access to workouts from top trainers at a fraction of the price of a trainer or gym membership. 

    Try: Nike Training Club (free) or Sweat (from around R310pm).

    2. Lose weight

    Ask any dietician and they’ll tell you that weight loss ultimately comes down to limiting calories – and your phone can help with that.

    Try: The MyFitnessPal app (free for basic tracking or go premium for R200pm for meal plans and a customised experience) is a food diary in your pocket that conveniently tracks the calories in any food you log via its massive user-generated database. 

    3. Monitor blood sugar

    This is a big one for diabetics – especially those who have dangerous, unpredictable lows. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a little patch you wear on your body that measures your blood glucose levels and shows you the reading in real time by syncing to an app on your phone. Some CGMs have potentially life-saving alerts that sound when your levels dip or spike dangerously – on your own device and that of any member of your support team who’s linked to your app.

    Try: Speak to your healthcare provider about the best CGM for your needs.


    4. Track steps

    You don’t need a fitness tracker to hit that elusive 10 000-steps-a-day goal. The health app on your phone will track your steps via your device’s built-in accelerometer – as long as you carry it with you. Which, let’s be honest, you’re already doing.

    Try: The latest version of the iOS Health app shows how steady you are on your feet. Samsung Health lets you compete against friends in step challenges. Huawei Health comes with a running guide. 

    5. Practise mindfulness

    Sitting still and focusing on your breath is so much harder than it sounds! Thankfully, you can download a mindfulness and meditation app to your phone for a guided practice.

    Try: Headspace (Free trial, then from around R810 per year) or Calm (Limited free version; Premium version has free trial, then around R600 per year)

    6. Sleep better

    You can set your phone up for better slumber. Enable night mode an hour before bed to limit light exposure or set a wind down routine so your phone does it automatically – and also limits notifications during your indicated sleep time. 

    Try: Sleep Cycle (limited free version or around R420 per year for all features) is an app that tracks your sleep (no wearable required) and provides health data. It also has bedtime stories and meditations.  

    7. Look after your mental health

    There’s talk that mental health is the next pandemic. Thankfully, your phone can connect you with valuable resources for those who can’t afford a psychologist. 

    Try: Visit SADAG for a list of mental health helplines. Remente (limited free version; premium from around R75pm) helps with goal-setting and overwhelm. Vive Teens (R100pm) gives teens age-appropriate mental health support and information. 

    Wanita Nicol