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June 19, 2014

Windows Phone Apps to hack your health

Now that 2014 is almost half over, how are your health-related New Year’s Resolutions coming along? 

Really? Me, too. Many of us promise to eat better, exercise more, and even quit smoking. Those of us with chronic medical conditions also aim to better monitor our health.

Unfortunately, many of us falter by the time spring rolls around. After all, it’s far easier to indulge in a piece of luscious cheesecake than go for a calorie-scorching 10k run!

But it’s not too late to get back on track: Here are some health-related apps to get you into fighting shape this summer.

Bing Health & Fitness
If you can’t afford a personal trainer, give this app a whirl. It features a library of video workouts tailored to your fitness level, from strength (“Big, Strong and Lean Workout”) to yoga (“Yoga for Athletes), as well as a compendium of medical information.

For example, under “symptom checker,” you’ll see an illustration of a man – tap the body part that’s giving you a problem. If you tap his legs, you’ll get symptoms such as hip pain or knee pain. You’ll be asked for other related symptoms (“stiff hip”), and will then be shown possible medical conditions.

Through GPS, Bing Health & Fitness can also track and log the time and distance of your morning run, your afternoon bike ride, and even your gnarly surfing session.

In addition, you can track your calorie intake with the app’s food database, and even research a variety of diets and get up-to-date health and nutrition news.

This is a great all-around app if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthier. MyFitnessPal (MFP) tracks your exercise, your calorie intake, and even the amount of water you drink every day.

With the help of an extensive food and liquid database (more than three-million items) that’s chock full of nutrition and calorie information, as well as a customized activity database (running for 60 minutes expends 561 calories) and weight-training (115 calories for 45 minutes), MFP tracks your progress to better health.

A social, supportive community is also a main draw of MFP. You can find friends and other like-minded fitness folks who keep you honest by cheering you on when you’re struggling with your food choices, or when you opt for that invigorating walk over watching television.

Blood Pressure
Keep better track of your blood pressure readings with this free app and a blood pressure meter and cuff (latter not included). Enter your systolic and diastolic numbers along with your heart rate and the time of reading directly into the app.

Over time, you can see meaningful statistical evaluations of your blood pressure through color-coded graphics.

In addition, you can also email your blood pressure readings from the app to your doctor or other health professional, and you can export the readings to Excel or OneDrive.

Diabetes Tracker
A handy tool to manage your diabetes on the go, Diabetes Tracker ($2.99) logs your blood glucose readings (mg/dL and mmol/L0), as well as your medication, weight and exercise.

By tracking all of that information, you’ll get detailed graphs of how your glucose readings relate to carbohydrate consumption and weight.

The app’s nutrition tool enables you to scan the barcodes of packaged foods to help you control your diet, and the “Create Alarms” feature reminds you when to check your glucose, eat, or do other time-sensitive tasks to manage your diabetes.

In addition, the app will send you the latest news related to diabetes.

qr_ConversationsKickSmokingNo one said it was going to be easy. This app offers constant encouragement on your decision to quit smoking in the form of numbers.

What numbers, you may ask? Morale-inducing ones, including: the number of days, minutes and seconds you’ve been smoke-free, the number of cigarettes you’ve avoided, the number of cravings you’ve resisted, and the amount of money you’ve saved by quitting tobacco.

The app supports Live Tiles, and key metrics are updated every 30 minutes. KickSmoking will also show you the health benefits of quitting smoking, and a timeline of expected health benefits, such as increased oxygen intake and cardiovascular improvement.

The app is free, but includes ads. If you don’t want to see ads, opt for the ad-free $1.99 version.

What do you think of these apps? Let us know if they help you get off the couch!