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If you’ve set health and wellness goals for this year, you’re probably scouting out useful resources. Using smartphones, tablets, and computer apps can help you reach your goals!

Sorting through the thousands of apps that fall under the “health and fitness” label may seem daunting, but filtering for what suits you can be easy. Start by talking to a trainer at your school’s gym, a nutritionist or dietitian, doctor, coach, athlete, health educator, or just a friend who uses apps.

Then look to user reviews for guidance. Check out publication and modification dates (listed in the app preview) to find which developers are responding to feedback and fixing glitches. Beware of apps that are bogged down with ads and understand that sometimes the most useful apps cost a few bucks. Many will offer a “light” version for free, so you can check out  the app before committing to purchase.

Healthy eating, exercise, sleep, and emotional well-being all impact your overall health, so think about selecting apps to help you with each.

Choosing Apps

Different apps will suit different styles, so find what works for you. If you find one that you like, but it’s not available for your device, search your app store with related terms.

Here are a few things to think about while exploring:

Reputation: Talk to people and read reviews to learn which apps have already proven useful.

Designers: Look for names you recognize, as these have solid user input and funding for optimization.

Reviews: User comments will give you a sense of the functionality of an app. Keep in mind that in general, however, more people take the time to write negative reviews than  positive ones.

Downloads: Lots of downloads probably represents a lot of peer-to-peer recommendation.

Here are 13 apps* to help you focus on your health in 2013:

Healthy Eating

1. Lose It! by FitNow, Inc.
Certified personal trainer Zac Flanders suggests Lose It! for monitoring and tracking nutritional information. Users can interact, and the layout is simple to understand and very informative. You can search a database for the nutritional content of foods and even use a barcode scanner to analyze packaged foods.

2. Healthy Recipes by SmartRecipes
Thousands of recipes and thorough nutritional data make eating solid meals a lot easier. This app stands out with its user-friendly interface and wealth of information.

3. Primal Smoothies by LeafCutter Studios
Healthy smoothies are awesome for snacks or meal alternatives. This app has a huge database of recipes. The nutritional content and directory structure make it a great reference.

4. Calorie Counter by FatSecret
This app provides an easy way to understand what’s in the food you eat and track your daily intake. It has a neat layout and several extras, such as a barcode scanner, exercise and weight logs, and a recipe database. Just keep in mind that calories are only one part of healthy eating.

R & R (Rest & Relaxation)

5. Relax Timer (Sleep Cycle)  by Master B
Relax Timer is a well-rounded app that provides informative data on your sleep habits, as well as relaxing audio and alarms.

6. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock by Maciek Drejak Labs
This innovative app uses your phone’s ability to track movement to analyze your  sleep. It then charts your slumber patterns and wakes you at an optimal point within a 30-minute time frame, when you’re in a light phase of sleep.

7. Stress Check and Stress by Doctor by Azumio, Inc.
These apps work together to help you manage stress. The former measures the variability of your heart rate. The latter interactively teaches deep breathing techniques so that you can feel more calm.

Looking for more relaxation apps? For recommendations, CLICK HERE.

Exercise

8. Just 6 Weeks by Just Do, Inc.
Flanders recommends this line of apps for people looking to reach exercise goals. They coach you through pushups, sit-ups, dips, squats, and pull-ups, provide helpful workout reminders and tips, manage data, and time intervals with a great visual interface.

9. Endmondo Sports Tracker by Endmondo
This is one of the most popular fitness apps. It covers every angle of your workout, from the tunes you play to the trails you run. The app even gives audio feedback during your workout—to motivate you like a trainer.

10. Yoga and Pilates with Kristen McGee by Daphne Borowski
This yoga and pilates combo app is the perfect fit for days when you need to blow off steam. Pilates and yoga workouts target core strength, stretching, and balance. They also focus on the mind/body connection, helping you relieve stress.

11. Instant Heart Rate by Azumio, Inc.
Monitoring heart rate is essential to cardio and interval training. With this app, you can track your resting and exercising rates, and heart rate recovery time. This provides vital information about your overall fitness level.

12. Fitness Buddy by Azumio, Inc.
If you’re looking for anatomical explanations and detailed exercise demos, this app is one of the best. It offers photos of each exercise, and with more than 1,700 built in, has tons of options.

13. MyFitnessPal by MyFitnessPal
This very popular app, available for nearly all smartphones, tablets, and via the Web, offers tools for weight and physical activity management. The food and exercise trackers, message boards, and other functions are all free.

Don’t have a smartphone? There are plenty of interactive wellness resources online. Many are offered by the same companies that provide mobile apps, so they’re designed to be easy to use.

You Can Get There!

This isn’t a definitive list of helpful apps by any means. Take advantage of every resource available and keep your mind open to what’s out there. In addition to apps, don’t forget to surround yourself with other people who are committed to their health.

Pursuing wellness is a lifetime commitment and a journey. Set your sights high and recognize every milestone you reach. In other words, never give up!

* Not all apps available on all devices.

Take Action!

  • Build a network of motivated friends and share ideas.
  • Choose and use apps that target different aspects of health & wellness.
  • Consider what you’d like to accomplish. Do a search of app stores to find options that address your goals.
  • Test-drive all the apps possible to find what works for you.
  • Consider apps that don’t require a smartphone or tablet. Many are available via the Web.
  • Stay current with upgrades to the apps you use, and explore new ones regularly.

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Stephen Tamm is a graduate of West Texas A&M University, a certified personal trainer, and is training to be a nutritionist.