App’ing My Way to Better Health and fitness

Recently fellow blogger Mina asked a question about meditation and sleep apps, and it got me thinking about all the ways I use apps to track various aspects of my health and fitness.

The most important is the health app on my phone, since it’s where I track my blood pressure and heart rate whenever I remember. Since I take blood pressure medication the doctor likes me to track it between visits.

I use the same app for a rough estimate of distance walked, though am often amused to see the inconsistencies between it, my watch, and what I have tracked on Strava. There is nothing quite like being in the middle of cycling somewhere and getting a command from your watch to “move”, or ending a long ride and being told by your phone that you haven’t been as active as usual. That’s because I use my watch primarily for telling time. It’s waterproof so I can wear it in the water, but I rarely remember to adjust the settings for walk vs bike vs run (it doesn’t do swim tracking).

Strava, on the other hand, I use quite a bit. It works well for cycling to influence city data collection on active transportation. I like it for tracking outdoor swim distances, even though it does a terrible job of recording speed accurately in the water. Sometimes I remember to turn it on when I am going for a longer walk, as it is more accurate for distance than the phone app tracking steps and guesstimating distance.

Somewhere I heard about the ParticipACTION app and started tracking everyday activities there. I like that I have a way to acknowledge time spent gardening or in dance class or doing yoga. It has lots of little videos and articles too, though I have never found anything as frisky as Sam did.

My new favourite is Let’s Bike, which allows me to track my cycling distances and convert them to dollars saved and greenhouse gases averted. I started using it in June as part of a Bike Month challenge. So far, I have biked over 490 km, saved more than $300 and averted 330 kg of greenhouse gases by cycling.

And finally, Nature Dose. It’s supposed to help me track whether I am getting enough time outside, to improve my mental health. The goal for someone living in an area like mine is 90 minutes per week. The first week I hit over 800 minutes. Week 2 was over 900 and so far this week I’m at almost 300. I don’t think I am their target audience.

Is it too many apps? Probably. But like Sesame Street’s Count von Count, I love to amuse myself by counting things, just for fun.

Sesame Street’s Count, a Muppet vampire in a black cape, holds an orange number 8.

Diane Harper is a public servant living in Ottawa.

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