Stay on top of your health – using your smartphone

Can you use your smartphone to stay on top of your health? We look at the rise of health tracking apps…

06 May 2016


Whether it’s toning up for your upcoming summer holiday, or you simply want to improve your overall fitness – there’s a load of apps you can use to help get in shape.

However, when it comes to really getting an idea of your health and fitness levels – and keeping on top of them – health management apps like Apple Health and Fitbit can give you a much more detailed picture.

We’ll help you understand this new tech and how you can use it to lead a healthier lifestyle.


What are health management apps?

Apps like Nike Running or Pedometer are great for looking at specific types of exercise you do, but they only give you a small glimpse of how healthy you are.

To get a fuller picture you need to have loads of apps measuring different things on your phone, which can get pretty complicated.

Instead, health management apps bring all the information together in one place – and analyses it for more accurate results. Plus, the data they can collect is becoming a lot more advanced.

In fact, according to industry experts, we could soon see doctors using them to provide you with a personalised healthcare service – all through your smartphone.

One of these, Apple’s CareKit, is a new type of software available to developers so they can create apps that’ll help people to manage their medical conditions.

The idea is that you’ll take more responsibility for your health by collecting data or information, and sharing it with your doctor. Some of the ways it could be used include:

  • Taking medication or doing physical therapy exercises – then tracking your recovery progress with sensors in the Apple Watch or iPhone
  • Or if you’re feeling unwell, you can keep an eye on your symptoms over a given period of time
  • Apple is also working on a platform that makes it easier for you to keep in touch with your doctor – and let them know if you’ve noticed any changes in your condition

While these apps may still be a way off, there are some advanced ones around you can now use to get a detailed picture of your health. Here we look at the main two.


The one for your smartphone – Apple Health

Want a way to manage your health without having to invest in any extra tech? If you have an iPhone, you’ll already have access to Apple Health. Find it on your home screen or by searching for ‘Health’.

What is Apple Health?

It’s a dashboard that brings together all the data you collect from other health apps like activity trackers, sleep monitors and calorie counters.

The really clever thing about Apple Health is that it lets these apps share the data they collect to get a better understanding of your overall health.

It’s easy to use, too. Once you’ve synced your apps to Health, it’ll start automatically logging your data – for example, if you use a running app and head out for an early morning 5K, your stats will be waiting on the Health dashboard for you the next time you log into your phone.

How can it help me to stay healthy?

Health can record and track your everyday health – like body measurements, fitness and a breakdown of your nutrition, to advanced vitals like blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. So it’s great if you just want to get fitter, or if you’re looking for a more detailed picture of your health.

Fitbit Surge

The one for your fitness tracker – Fitbit app

This app works best if you have a Fitbit tracker. It’s designed to be used day and night – so from the minute you wake up right through to going to sleep, no health stat goes unmissed.

What is the Fitbit app? Like Apple Health, it’s a dashboard that displays stats and charts about your overall health. You can view it on your smartphone, tablet and laptop or computer screen.

 How can it help me to stay healthy? Log your daily activity like steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes – and view it as a graph to see you general fitness levels over time. You’ll also get a weekly email update showing your stats for the past 7 days.

Plus, any additional exercise you do will be recorded – for running or cycling for example the GPS on your smartphone will show you your route, as well as the pace you covered it at.

Check out 8 ways your fitness band can improve your routine.

You can also use it to track your weight and log your calorie intake – great if you’re trying to lose weight or even if you’re just interested in finding out how healthy your diet is. 

At night you can monitor your sleep to see the quality of rest you’re getting – and set goals to improve it.

Get a tracker with a built-in heart rate monitor like the Fitbit Surge or Charge HR and you’ll be able to collect data on your resting heart rate and your heart rate as you exercise.

Get in shape in time for summer with our range of smart watches and fitness trackers.