Want to get fit and stay fit? There's an app for that. The government's recent list of its top 500 health apps struck a chord with our smartphone-savvy healthy team. Our tried and tested edit of the top 15 will do wonders for your wellbeing. You know what they say: an app a day...
Five of the best
Set aside 20-30 minutes, three times a week, to let Active.com's award-winning Couch-to-5K app transform your phone into an exercise log book and personal trainer.
The Mood Monitor
Moodscope.com is designed to lift your mood in the same way Weight Watchers helps dieters lose weight: measure, track, share. If you're worried about someone, suggest they start Moodscoping and register you as their buddy; you'll receive their test scores daily.
The Body & Brain
Having a healthy heart can lower the risk of dementia and improve brain health. Take this app's survey and get three recommendations to improve your 'brain-heart score'. We love the insightful factoids, such as the average weight of an adult human brain... it's 3lbs.
ScreenerFoodwiz (free to download; £25 for
12 months' subscription to product database)
Supported by Allergy UK, this is a godsend for anyone with food intolerances. Input the ingredients you wish to avoid and zap the product barcodes in the supermarket aisle to find out instantly if they are suitable.
Developed by NHS experts for chronic fatigue sufferers, ActiveME tracks daily energy levels. Enter your dips and spikes into the graph and visualise your pitfalls in the weekly charts.
And the rest...
Sleep Cycle (£0.69)
Do you jump out of bed at the sound of your alarm or wake up feeling groggy and slam on 'snooze'? We all hanker after that elusive eight hours, but could the key to a good night's sleep be more aboutwhen you wake up, instead of when you go to bed? Sleep Cycle uses the iPhone's accelerometers to measure your movement during the night and calculate your sleep pattern. It will trigger an alarm when you are in a light sleep moment as close as possible to your chosen wake-up time.
Baby Bump Pregnancy Pro (£2.49)
Nine months feels like a lifetime for many of us, but in this app you have the perfect prenatal pal. Track your baby's growth (don't let landmarks like 'pumpkin size' pass you by), try the "kick counter", plus get informed with birthing videos and updates on what bodily changes you can expect. If you're so inclined, you can even use it to update your Facebook profile when you go into labour. Too much information, perhaps?
TOP 50 FOODS TO EAT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING
St John Ambulance (£2.39)
It's no substitute for a first aid course, nor is it as in-depth as a first aid manual, but this app's simple illustrated guides and voiced instructions could make all the difference in a crisis. The app includes the latest first aid advice and protocols for dealing with emergencies, such as choking, severe bleeding and heart attacks.
No armbands, shoe chips or belt clips needed: just drop your phone into your pocket. This app doesn't rely on GPS to track your walks and runs - it uses pedometer step-detection - so it works just as well indoors on a treadmill as it does walking up the high street, or on a cross-country run. Set target speeds and keep a record of your distances, calories burned and average pace stats.
Desk Yoga (£1.49)
The name says it all really. No mat or stretchy leggings necessary. Stay seated and follow the video demos for a stress-busting, tension-relieving pick-me-up. Let's face it, as desk breaks go this is far more productive than updating Twitter or catching up on celebrity gossip.
Headspace On-the-Go (free)
Converted Buddhist Andy Puddicombe spent 10 years as a monk in a Tibetan monastery and returned to the UK on a mission to free us from life's stresses by bringing meditation to the masses with Headspace. The first 10 guided mediations are free (you can then choose whether or not to sign up for £4.99 a month). Download videos to use offline on holiday and set 'meditation reminders' and 'mindfulness buzzers' to keep you on track day-to-day.
Breast cancer is the UK's most commonly diagnosed cancer and early detection is crucial. Get into the habit of checking your breasts regularly by using this mobile app to set reminders, then follow the video demos so you know exactly what to look for. You can also create your own 'risk report', based on family history, lifestyle and environmental factors, to highlight what risk factors might be most relevant to you. .
Diabetes UK Tracker (free)
If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, this app will make logging your levels quicker and simpler. You can track blood glucose, carbohydrates, insulin, calories, weight and ketones, see what your daily averages are and spot any telling patterns or trends on the colourful graphs (which can be emailed directly from the app to your nurse or doctor).
NHS Quit Smoking (free)
Keep this app on hand to make cutting down on smoking as painless as it can be. What better motivator than money? Tap in the number of cigarettes you smoke per day, your quit date, and watch the cash you've saved pile up on the screen. You'll also receive daily messages of support during the first 30 days, instant tips from other smokers who have stopped and horrible smoking statistics, such as smoking ages your skin and dulls your tastebuds.
Instant Heart Rate (£0.69)
With no accessories or plug-in devices required, we couldn't understand how this app would work, but it does (more so with the iPhone 4 or 4S)! It's incredibly simple: lightly press the tip of your index finger on the camera lens for about ten seconds - the amount of light that passes through your finger as the blood is pumped from your heart gives you your heart rate reading - which is added to a nifty timeline of results.