World Health Day in April is the perfect opportunity to take stock of your health - or at least, all the cool health stuff you probably don't know how to use on your iPhone. Here's everything you need to know to start keeping track of your fitness, wellness and sleep, plus some apps you can download to help with your tracking. Here's to a fitter, calmer, better-rested you.
Last week’s World Health day has got a lot of us thinking about our well-being and improving our lifestyles. Changing behaviours can feel overwhelming, but many of us aren’t using the incredibly advanced and pretty easy tools available on our iPhones. Maybe that’s because some of the more sophisticated health apps can overwhelm us; too much information can be as blinding as none, if you’ve come to this page looking for running apps we have a separate, but equally great page for that.
Since the release of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, we’ve come to expect more health based functionality from our pocket essentials and this year’s new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are no exception.
Phones are good when it comes to so many things, but nothing is more important than taking care of your metal and physical health. We’ve put together seven simple, informative and effective ways you can track and improve all-round well-being with your trusty iPhone.
The iPhone Health App
We can’t talk about iPhone health features without mentioning this in-built (un-deletable!) app. Yes, there are more advanced options out there, but this simple, accessible and easy-to-use app encourages users to see themselves holistically, by bringing all your data into one place. Health keeps its focus to just four main areas: activity, eating, sleeping and mindfulness/relaxation. Think of it as a centralised data hub; it’ll allow you to record essential medical data (useful for emergencies) and also record your steps and even how many stairs you’ve climbed.
Then there’s the health information you can manually store, too, from body fat to blood alcohol content and things connected to reproductive health, to help assist with conception. In order to record this stuff though, you’ll need other apps, which Health recommends (kind of like a doctor referring to a specialist) including mindfulness apps like Headspace. Make sure you go into Health app and tap ‘Sources’ at the bottom of the screen to sync with these third-party apps and ensure things like workouts and meditation minutes get logged.
For the more advanced, fitness-friendly people out there, you’ll probably want an extremely versatile and accurate app that will help you track and understand any sporting activity – although (clue’s in the name) it focuses on cycling, you can get data for a range of activities, including running and walking. Track your calories, speed, distance and see trends on graphs, calendars, check your splits, zones and intervals over time. It’s arguably the most advanced fitness tracking app on the market, and the best news is that it’s free to download.
Does your 3pm cuppa tip you over into a bad night’s sleep? Whether you a sensitive little flower when it comes to green tea or you just love your java that little bit too much, this app will keep you (and your caffeine intake) on track. Just pick the type of coffee, tea or caffeinated cold drink you schnarfed, including what time and, with plenty of fun visuals, this nifty app will let you know just how wired (or ready for bed) you are.
Sleep with me
Don’t worry, we’re not being super forward. If you’ve noticed that you’re struggling to settle down at night, download this podcast and you’ll be quite literally bored to sleep. In a good way, that is; it doesn’t resort to the usual lullabies or even binaural noise (frequencies designed to relax the brain waves into slumber); this is just a guy telling really boring stories that’ll lull you into the land of nod. Quite simply: genius.
Bedtime on iPhone
This nifty little iPhone feature is basically Sleep-Hygiene-For-Beginners. Provided you have the iOS 10 software installed, this handy facility will be already in built into your iPhone. All you need to do is open the clock app, hit the bedtime button and suggest what time you’d ideally like to nod off and wake up. It’ll set your alarm for the same time, daily, and even give you bedtime reminders (just like when you were a kid).
Nightshift on iPhone
Yes, yes, we know: we should all get off screen at least an hour before we want to go to sleep. But if you’re not quite ready for the Bedtime reminders, or you want to be sure you’re ready for sleep when Bedtime comes, try the iPhone’s Nightshift facility. This allows you to schedule the time you’d like the back lighting on your phone to switch to a calming yellow-gold light rather than the usual computer-related blue which tends to wake us up. Just go into Settings > Display and Brightness and if you have iOS 10 you should be able to switch the feature on.
This clever, connected app tracks how well you sleep through the night by analysing noises and movement. It’s free, but you can subscribe to a paid-for service which will allow you to sync to other apps and will provide you with long-term data that can help you understand your specific sleeping patterns, including the effects of the weather, your diet, the moon, day of the week and more. You can also set an alarm and the app will work out the best time within a 30-minute period to wake you up – so you’re less likely to press snooze and fall back to sleep again. No more missing those crucial 9am appointments!
Just like your grandmother said: “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves…” Using a money tracking app like Spending Tracker will help you take control of your finances, once and for all. Put all your expenditure into categories and you’ll finally have to admit where you fritter the most away (or just how much you love pizza). Though this could save you hundreds, it could also just be about ridding yourself of cash concerns and getting empowered around money and, most importantly, give you the incentive you need to spend any money you save on healthier food, gym memberships and other wellness-improving pursuits.
Are you overworked, overanxious or just stressing out all over the place? Lots of us live in a state of perpetual anxiety or overwhelm. In fact, The World Health Organisation predicts work-related stress, burnout and depression will top the list of the world’s most prevalent diseases by 2020. Ack. Interestingly, Spire’s breath and activity tracker will make it harder for you to ignore your stress and easier to take care of yourself. It clips onto your belt (or similar), connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone, offering immediate feedback about your stress level and suggestions for lowering it with the breathing and mindfulness exercises suggested. Remember, your mental health is still your health!
Think doodling is just for kids? Think again: colouring and sketching just got cool for all ages, particularly when it makes you a calmer, smilier human being. Not only is it simply convenient to have a mini colouring book on your iPhone, but it also makes it easier to take some downtime when you’re stressed, since your boss will probably assume you’re just checking email.