4 apps to improve health: the pros weigh in

Looking to increase your nutrition, improve your fitness, and better manage stress? CBC Health asked health professionals for their favourite picks.

Physical activity, cooking, weight management and meditation apps help keep you on track

Looking to increase your nutrition, improve your fitness, and better manage stress?  CBC Health asked health professionals for their favourite picks.  

Weight management: My Fitness Pal

Recommended by registered dietitian Michelle Mountain

My Fitness Pal helps you keep track of your overall fitness and diet throughout the day. When you log what you've eaten and what exercise you've done for the day, the app will interpret the data and provide you with your own personalized diet and exercise program as well as customized goals. By entering your food for the day, you'll find out how many calories you're consuming as well as the amounts of major nutrients in your food such as fat, fibre, carbs and, protein etc. In addition to tracking your exercise, the app allows you to connect with devices like Fitbit or apps like RunKeeper and to set reminders for anything from eating snacks to drinking water.

Physical activity: Strava  

Recommended by certified athletic therapist Elysa Graci

Strava uses GPS to track your exercise — everything from cycling and running to weight training and yoga — in a user-friendly way. The app allows you to compare each workout with your previous ones, and to compete with other athletes who have charted the same course to see where you rank. I like that the app is social so that you can find motivation in others' training. Even when you're travelling, the app will show you the best routes and places to do your work out.  

Mindfulness and stress management: Headspace

Recommended by Toronto family physician Dr. Matt MacDonald, who works as a mental performance coach for athletes.

This app provides an introduction to mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness helps people better manage stress by training the mind to create calm at will, particularly in difficult situations. With the description "your gym membership for the mind," this platform offers a free, 10-day experience where users try a different 10-minute meditation each day. The app encourages you to browse their collections and "pick sessions to suit your mood and lifestyle." Meditation can be quite challenging at first and Headspace is a great first step because it will gently ease people into the practice.  

Healthy cooking: Cookspiration

Recommended by registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom

Cookspiration is a recipe app that provides healthy meal ideas based on how you're feeling at a specific time of day. For me, health is directly linked to food. Cooking from scratch is a great way to enjoy nourishing meals — except finding healthy recipes on your own isn't always easy. With Cookspiration, if you open the app on Thursday at noon, you'll get lunch ideas that include categories like "spice is nice," "light lunch" and "kid-approved." I always find an inspiring recipe amidst the app's suggestions. Bonus: each recipe comes with complete nutrient analysis, so you'll know how much fibre, sodium, protein, etc. is in each serving.  

What's your favourite health and fitness app and why? Share your suggestion in the comments below.

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