Smartphones carry all sorts of health risks. Oblivious to our surroundings, we read texts, scroll through pictures and type messages as we walk around, bumping into objects (and other people), with some actually falling to their death. Chiropractors regularly treat "text neck." Smartphones reportedly carry more germs than a toilet seat. And sometimes they spontaneously catch fire.
Fortunately, they can also have some health benefits. While health and fitness apps aren't generally as sexy as a hot game or entertainment offering, they can make it easier to get in shape or keep tabs on specific health issues. And when you find one that works for you, you tend to use it for longer periods of time than whatever the hot game is at the moment.
Looking to improve your overall well-being? These apps can help you get on your way.
Motivating yourself to start running is only half the battle. Training isn't always a picnic, either. This eight-week program, though, lets you prepare for a 5K with three weekly runs. Depending on the length of your inactivity, though, you might need to repeat a few of those sessions a few times before moving onto the next level.
Eating healthy isn't always easy. This app lets you pick a product off the grocery store shelf and quickly learn about its hidden secrets — whether that's too much sugar, genetically modified foods, trans fat or something else. It also offers tips that can prove useful in helping you watch your weight and lose stubborn pounds.
If you're a diabetic, it's smart to keep track of your food intake (and how it affects your blood glucose levels). Beyond simply acting as a log, though, MySugr looks for trends and patterns and lets you know which meals you might be better off adjusting. For an additional fee, you can get advice from diabetes experts and print out reports for your doctor.
Searching the web for the cause or severity of a medical condition is how many a hypochondriac is born. Rather than simply relying on websites, HealthTap sends your question to a network of doctors (more than 105,000 total). It might take a little longer than a web search, but it's often much less alarming. If you just can't wait that long, there's information available on common health-care issues. And if you need more, there's a $99-per-month premium service that lets you video chat with doctors.
($4.99, available on iOS)
There are plenty of apps to help you focus on your breathing and reduce stress. What makes this anxiety app different is that it goes a few steps further, offering brain exercises that can cut off negative thinking and help you reframe your thoughts. It uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to offset everything from anxiety to emotional eating.
(Free, available on iOS)
There are plenty of apps to help you focus on your breathing and reduce stress. What makes this anxiety app different is it goes a few steps further, offering brain exercises that can cut off negative thinking and help you reframe your thoughts. It uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to offset everything from anxiety to emotional eating.
Depression lies. And it often tells you that you have many more worse days than you do better ones. MoodPrism helps you cut through that by tracking your emotional health. Just input how you're feeling and the app will color-coordinate that, which could reveal patterns about what sets off an episode of anxiety or depression and show the actual ratio of good to bad days.
Diet is the key to weight loss. And while there are many food-diary apps on the market, few are as comprehensive as Calorie Counter, which has a database of more than 6 million foods. Input what you've had to eat and the serving size and it will autofill the number of calories, carbs, fat grams and protein and display how many calories you have left in your daily recommended allowance. The app also can import recipes and figure out their nutritional information.
Fitting a workout into a busy schedule can be tricky, but this app delivers a variety of options that last anywhere from a quick 5 minutes to a full hour. Among the options are cardio, strength training, yoga or simply stretches. All totaled, there are 20 workouts to choose from, all with an onscreen trainer.
(Free, available for iOS and Android)
Lower your costs on prescription medicine with this app, which scans for coupons and discounts and can connect with your health insurance provider to ensure you're being charged the right co-pay. You'll also learn about any restrictions your insurance might have before you go to the pharmacy. The app's made by prescription-drug analytics company Truveris.
— By Chris Morris, special to CNBC.com