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All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Health and Fitness Apps

By Patrick Nelson
Jan 23, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Many of us have got health and fitness on the mind as the new year gets under way, and the smartphone is proving itself to be a remarkable little healthcare provider.

All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Health and Fitness Apps

This week, All Things Appy takes a look at key players in this area.

About the Platform

All of these iOS apps can be found in the Apple iTunes store.

Browse to the store from your device. Then perform a search for the app you want to download.

No. 1: MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal is rated 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions, based on 303,114 ratings, and 5 out of 5 stars for the current version, based on 2,696 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

calorie counter

MyFitnessPal stores more than 2 million types of food in its database and provides a free barcode scanner to look up foods you've eaten -- or are about to.

This app lets you take control of your chowing down without pedantic and punctilious prescribed diets.

You know how many calories you're allowed, you know what you've eaten -- and therefore, you also know if you've been bad or good.

"The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said Jack Hollis, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, in a comment on the MyFitnessPal website.

"Those who kept daily food records [lost] twice as much weight as those who kept no records," he noted. "It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories."

No. 2: Fitbit


Fitbit is rated 2.5 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions, based on 778 ratings, and 3 out of 5 for the current version, based on 73 ratings, in the iTunes App Store. A companion hardware device is required.

Fitbit is an accompaniment app to the Fitbit activity trackers and weight scale obtainable in consumer electronics box stores as well as online.

This app takes advantage of the significant processing power of your smartphone to crunch the numbers sucked out of the trackers.

Distance traveled, steps taken, stairs climbed, sleep quality and other pertinent health- oriented datum can be synced.

An available hardware smart scale measures weight, body mass index (BMI) and fat to add to the mix.

The app lets you set goals and manage fitness analytics. All you have to do is use it.

No. 3: WebMD


WebMD is rated 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions, based on 48,104 ratings, and 4 out of 5 for the current version, based on 1,629 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

Drive yourself crazy speculating on what ails you -- or doesn't. Checking symptoms for a multitude of diseases and conditions, and looking up drug and treatment advice all contribute to the reinforcement of the wisdom of sending doctors to med school, rather than giving them an app and telling them to get on with it.

Still, the wealth of symptom and conditions advice, first aid information, local health listings, drug side effects and precautions make this a fine app.

No. 4: RunKeeper - GPS Track Running Walking Cycling

RunKeeper from FitnessKeeper is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars for all versions, based on 14,695 ratings, and the current version is also rated 4.5 out of 5, based on 816 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

A personal trainer-like app that lets you track walks, runs, bike rides, cross country skiing and other distance-related exercises. The app uses your smartphone's Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite receiver.

The requisite analytical stats can be generated to track your progress -- or lack of it. For the truly geeky health nut -- and who would have thought we'd ever see that consumer genre a few years ago? -- you can even merge data with other health tools like Fitbit.

No. 5: Instant Heart Rate Heart Rate Monitor by Azumio Free

Instant Heart Rate is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars for all versions, based on 2,562 ratings, and the current version is also rated 4.5 out of 5, based on 1,524 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

More than a year ago, the MIT Technological Review, a journal founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a proof-of-concept app that could take a pulse when you held your finger over the smartphone's camera.

Well, the concept appears to work, and this app is one of the results. The app uses a combination of skin color changes caused by heart rhythms, and white light -- preferably from a camera's flash. Tricky to get right, so consequently a runner-up position. It's a remarkable idea nonetheless.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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Self-driving vehicles should be banned -- one death is one too many.
Autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives -- the tests should continue.
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Most injuries and fatalities in self-driving auto tests are due to human error.