• From monitoring your fitness, eating better, brain games and destressing - there’s an app to help you achieve your health goals. (Flickr)Source: Flickr
Get running faster while zombies chase you; meditate to rain on a tin roof; scan barcodes to see the sugar hidden in food - all with your smartphone.
By
Shannon McKeogh

18 Feb 2016 - 9:46 AM  UPDATED 18 Feb 2016 - 10:22 AM

Transform your smartphone into a health guru that you can take with you anywhere. From monitoring your fitness, eating better, brain games and destressing, there’s an app for just about everything to help you achieve your health goals. 

 

For better nutrition

 

FoodSwitch

Use your phone’s camera to scan the package's barcode to see what’s hidden in the food you’re eating and what healthier alternatives of similar products are available.

Pros Makes reading food labels easy to compare, and automatically sorts through hundreds of supermarket items. This app can be personalised for specific allergies and diets, including SaltSwitch, GlutenSwitch, FatSwitch, SugarSwitch and more.

Cons Doesn’t include food additives (see Fooditive below) or preservatives, and scanning barcodes can be a little fiddly at times.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Healthy Recipes by SparkRecipes

This is the largest online database of healthy and creative meals. Scroll through 500,000 good-for-you recipes, easily categorised by meal, occasion, prep time and dietary needs. Nutrition overview also offered for each recipe.

Pros Recipe instructions are easy to follow' the “favourites” button stores all your selected recipes for safe-keeping; and cooking videos are an added bonus to help you create new dishes.

Cons Some ingredients are expensive and there isn't a "low-budget recipes" category.

Free, iOS and Android

 

That Sugar App

From the guys behind That Sugar Film, That Sugar App allows you to track the amount of sugar you and your family are eating and cut back on the sweet stuff.

Pros Bright, eye-popping graphics that appeal to all ages; brilliant visual cues to track sugar intake. You can set your own personal sugar challenges for a week or a month.

Cons Not all food and sugar information is available in the search function option; it can be difficult to navigate.

Free, iOS and Android

This app means you don't need to scoop your fruit into little balls to keep track of your daily sugar intake anymore. 

 

Foodditive

Vegans, gluten-intolerant and those with kosher requirements can find shopping a nightmare. Solution? A personalised guide on food additives.

Pros The great personal features means it flags additives for the individual based on whether it is okay, suspect or to be avoided. This makes reading labels easier and can be your supermarket pal when purchasing new food items.

Cons The huge amount of information on additives can be overwhelming.

$5.99, iOS only

 

For activity seekers

 

C25K - 5K Trainer Free (Go from Couch Potato to Running the 5K)

Say farewell your couch potato days and say hello to pounding the pavement. The gradual program uses walking and running interval training over 8 weeks to reach a 5 km running goal.

Pros The step-by-step program is easy to use and sets realistic goals for even the most unfit person. A coach motivates you throughout the session, which can be combined with music.

Cons You only get the first three runs free before having to buy the full version ($1.99). Training plans involve purchasing supplement apps.

Free, iOS and Android

 

TeamUp

Like a social network for getting active, use this app to find a walking buddy, sporting team or community class to get involved with in your area without the hassle of having to research different websites.

Pros Allows users to create their own posts and respond to others; the information on activities is easy to find and succinct.  

Cons Only available for Victorians (as the app is developed by VicHealth) and some locations do not have many listings. 

Free, iOS and Android

 Wonder Woman could be your running buddy.

 

Map My Run

Despite the name, this app is not just for mapping or runners. Combining both GPS and timing features it can be used to log 600 different types of workouts.

Pros Provides a report on your time, distance and average pace, ideal for those needing motivation to improve their training. You can also create fitness challenges with friends and family.

Cons In-built app purchases encourage further add-ons to the basic functions.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Mindbody

Useful directory for individuals seeking healthy body and mind-related activities, such as yoga, pilates, massage, group fitness and more. This online noticeboard provides information on timetables, prices and special deals.

Pros Uses GPS to determine studios nearby and easy online booking options to reserve your spot in a class. Schedules and prices are easy to find.

Cons Close the app when you're finished, otherwise the GPS function continues to run and can drain battery life.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Pocket Yoga

A yoga guru that fits in your pocket. It allows users flexibility for when, where and for how long you would like to downward dog for. Twenty-seven different yoga workouts are available to bend and stretch to.

Pros Variety of yoga stretches; the pause button allows you to take poses at your own pace.

Cons Shortest practices are 30 minutes' long and can be a little fast-paced and repetitive for the yoga newbie.

$4.49, iOS and Android

 

7 Minute Workout

Got a spare 7 minutes? Then you’ve got enough time for a workout. Get your heart racing with star-jumping, planks, sit-ups and more. No gym or gym equipment required.

Pros This app has a pleasing visual design and the exercise routines are simple to follow. The calendar tracks workout history, which shows your successes.

Cons Doesn’t allow you to track workouts outside of the app.  If you don’t complete the workout every day, you lose a “life”.

Free, iOS and Android

 Anyone can find 7 minutes to exercise, even this guy.

 

Run Zombie Run

Need motivation to run? How about a zombie hot at your heels? In this app, saving the world from flesh-eating maniacs means you need to move, fast. Each run is an audio adventure and action-packed mission.

Pros The use of immersive stories to keep you interested in running; you get to collect vital supplies to help survivors as you run (medicine and ammo); the tracking and reports on performance.

Cons After the initial freebie and taster, the app works on a subscription service that costs $4.49 a month.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Lumosity

How can playing games improve your brain health including memory, response time and attention? Developed by a strange breed called gaming scientists, these cognitive games will give your brain the workout it needs.

Pros Games are simple to play, addictive and fun. App reports on your process and shows where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Cons Not a huge variety of games, many functions are locked and require a pricey subscription to access.

Free, iOS and Android

 

For mindful motivations

 

Stop, Breathe & Think

Hit the pause button on your busy life and simply stop, breathe and think. A big step up from a simple guided meditation, this app tailors meditations based on your emotions and physical wellbeing and encourages mindful reflection.

Pros Check-in tool allows you to track how you’re feeling from day-to-day; short n' sweet meditations can be easily fitted into your day. 

Cons Some functions locked and require in-app purchases.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Balanced

Some of us are not so great at making time for our health and wellbeing. Balanced is a scheduling app that gently reminds you through push notifications to have some balance in your life such as going for a walk, practising yoga, reading a book, etc.

Best features Welcoming and colourful interface; wellness reminders modified to suit your goals; encouraging and positive tone.

Cons Scheduling tracker only works week-by-week; free version limited to five activities.

Free, iOS only.

The app that helps your child's mental health
A meditation app is introducing mindfulness to a new generation of Australians via the classroom and helping to address the current spike in depression and anxiety among young people.

Rainy Mood

Is there anything more relaxing than falling asleep to the sound of rain? With this app you can make it rain wherever and whenever you wish at the click of a button.

Pros High-quality audio of rain and thunder, choose from different rain sounds on grass, dirt, tin roof and more.

Cons Minimal features, timer can only be set for one hour or off, a little overpriced for what you actually get.

 $5.49, iOS and Android

No umbrella needed.

 

For newbie parents

 

My Pregnancy Today

The one-stop shop for mums-to-be, this app is jam-packed with information on your bub’s development from advice and guidance on weekly growth to nutrition, exercise, recipes, mental health and more.

Pros  You can capture your growing belly with the Bumpie tool; weekly pregnancy checklist reminds you of appointments and things to do. App also sends you helpful info to your inbox.

Cons Some parts of the app are slow to load.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Mind the Bump

From day one to 24 months after birth, Mind the Bump can be your honest and refreshing companion as you journey through parenthood. Developed by Smiling Mind and Beyond Blue, the app mentally and emotionally prepares you for having a baby and being a parent.

Pros Short meditations and tasks are realistic for busy parents to do; app also allows parents to reflect without judgement.

Cons The voice guiding you through the meditations may not appeal to all.

Free, iOS and Android

 

Feed Safe

This handy app takes the guesswork out of when it’s safe for breastfeeding mums to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer without it affecting their bubs. The app answers important questions about how alcohol affects breast milk and how to drink safely.

Pros Personalised calculator based on your height and weight and alcohol units consumed lets you know when there should be no alcohol in your system.

Cons Alcohol is only based on units, with no option for millilitres or cups, which makes it difficult to track for drinking wine.

Free, iOS only.

 

The Wonder Weeks

Is your baby fussy? Not sleeping well? Not hungry? This tailored calendar can help you find out what developments, leaps and bounds your bub is going through, what you can do and whether there may be some stormy periods ahead.

Pros Can look out for growth milestones and keep track of baby’s development.

Cons Studies are based on babies' calculated due date not real birthdays.

$2.99, iOS and Android

 At 23 months, your baby will learn to be suspicious of crackers.

 

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