Sunday 17 December 2017

Get app and go!

Nathalie Marquez Courtney on the sites and apps that can make you happier, healthier and fitter.


Zen Habits

Created by Leo Babauta, a married dad of six living in San Franciso, Zen Habits is filled with simple, practical and inspiring advice on everything from de-cluttering your inbox to losing weight.

Listed as one of the top 25 blogs in the world by 'Time' magazine, the site has more than a million readers who log on for fresh weekly inspiration or to read through several years' worth of excellent archives.

Do Nothing

Research shows that being able to see nature while you work can increase productivity. In studies of call centres, workers who could see the outdoors completed tasks 6-7pc more efficiently than those who couldn't.

But not all of us have the luxury of a widow desk, which is where this handy site comes in. Do Nothing challenges you simply to sit at your desk, headphones in, listening to relaxing sounds and staring at a pretty natural vista for just two minutes. Sound easy? It's harder than it seems.

Zen to Fitness

Featuring weekly tips and guides that can be read in five minutes or less, Zen to Fitness offers simple, no-nonsense advice on health, nutrition and, of course, fitness. Featuring guest posts from top health professionals, the site aims to motivate and inspire with real, practical solutions.

Mark's Daily Apple

Whether you want to lose weight or simply live healthier and increase your energy levels, Mark Sisson's site is packed with advice.

With more than 300,000 subscribers, the 57-year-old's blog contains dozens of articles about the increasingly popular 'primal' fitness approach, which promotes exercise and eating habits based around how our ancestors did things.

Emergency compliment

Studies are showing that being told nice things can stimulate the brain in the same way as being rewarded with money can make us improve our work. But what if there is no one around to give you praise? This cute and quirky site can to it for you.

Featuring compliments that vary from the sweet ("The kid you passed on the street today wants to grow up to be just like you") to the absurd ("Your sneeze sounds like a chorus of angels giggling.") it can give a quick lift to a dull day.

iPhone apps

Moves (free)

This app automatically records any walking, cycling or running you do. The idea is that seeing how much you move every day will encourage you to do more and to hit an exercise goal of 10,000 steps a day.

The app can also store routes and locations so you can see exactly where most of your exercise is concentrated.

Get Running (€2.69)

Based on the popular 'Couch to 5K' programme, Get Running aims to give you both the tools and the motivation to get outside and get moving.

It schedules your workouts, maps your route and the human voice coach even gives you motivational messages and updates to help gradually build up your pace.

Gratitude Journal (89c)

This sweet app claims that the simple act of writing down five things you are grateful for each day can dramatically change your life for the better. It can also act as a quick entry journal, and comes with the ability to add photos and the day's inspirational quote to our entries. Even if you don't use it daily, creating an entry when you're in a funk can help change your outlook.

Meal Snap (€2.69)

If you're a fan of taking pictures of your lunch and dinner, then this app takes it one step further. Meal Snap 'magically' assesses your picture to give you a nutritional breakdown of what you're eating, complete with calorie information.

Quick and fun to use, it's great if you want to roughly gauge how calorific your dessert is but, as the results are only estimates, it's not for those who are trying to stick to a very strict diet.

Calorie Counter Pro (€3.59)

A pricier alternative to the many free calorie storing and scanning apps on the market, Calorie Counter Pro is for people serious about keeping track of their eating habits.

Featuring a huge database of hundreds of thousands of food types as well as a barcode scanner, it analyses both the calorie and nutritional content of food. Its database is offline too, so you don't need an internet connection to use it.

Unstuck (free. iPad only)

Probably the closest an app will come to being a life coach, Unstuck begins by asking a series of questions about your moods and problems, and then offers tried and tested tips on how to get 'unstuck'. Surprisingly effective, its design makes it fun to use too.

Sleep Cycle (89c)

A great alternative to the built-in alarm app, Sleep Cycle rests on your bed and analyses your sleep patterns in order to wake you up during your lightest cycle, and therefore hit the day feeling rested, not groggy.

It also provides statistics on your sleeping patterns to help you pinpoint why and when you sleep badly.

Irish Independent

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