The best health, diet and exercise apps for iPhone
Our favorite iPhone apps for keeping fit, workouts, reducing stress and relaxing.
ChillScape is an interesting curiosity. In a sense, it’s reminiscent of Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers’ Bloom, in that it involves meditative, ambient audio and a screen full of circles. The main difference here is that instead of creating discs that disappear into the background, you’re popping them like bubbles.
The idea is to relax into the audio and visuals. Rather than frantically popping discs, you should approach them thoughtfully and mindfully. Over time, more bubbles appear, and the audio shifts to add frequencies that claim to aid calm and stimulate euphoria, as a background beat gradually slows to reduce your heart rate.
Naturally, audio is subjective, and so the sounds used may not work for you; but if they do, Chillscape should prove a pleasurable yet absorbing way to unwind.
Paprika Recipe Manager
Paprika wants your main companion in the kitchen to be your iPhone. With the app, you can store clippings from foodie websites. Recipes are intelligently saved offline, and can be edited. You can even add photos of your successes, thereby giving you something to aim for next time!
The app also supports everything else about mealtimes. You can create grocery lists, track what’s in your cupboards and when ingredients expire, plan meals that are synced with Calendar, and create reusable menus.
The app’s not the most vibrant in its class, and lacks the handy step-by-step imagery and videos found in the likes of Kitchen Stories and Tasty, but for getting on with the business of planning and making meals, on an ongoing basis it deserves the app equivalent of a Michelin star.
Streaks is a to-do manager all about helping you form good habits – and ridding yourself of bad ones. You begin by selecting a task and defining how often you want to do it. Tasks are subsequently checked off, and you can track your progress by way of the app’s various graphs and statistics.
Where Streaks succeeds is in the flexibility of the tasks you can add, and the razor-sharp focus on getting habits infused into your routine. The bold interface is ideally suited to six tasks, forcing you to prioritize. You can set reminders, and mark items as done using the Today widget or an Apple Watch.
Task types are varied. There are those that integrate with Health, negative tasks (like smoking) to avoid completing, and timed tasks for things like meditation sessions. In all, it’s an excellent app for coaxing out a better you.
- Free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP
White Noise+ is an ambient noise machine, which aims to drown out distractions by filling your ears with something pleasant instead.
Rather than just offering you sounds to play, or sliders to adjust volume levels, it takes the form of a mini mixing desk akin to the smart drums grid in GarageBand. You drag sounds into the 16 available slots, with those towards the top playing at a louder volume, and those towards the right offering more complexity. It’s intuitive, effective and looks really great as well.
Neatly, should you happen upon a particularly pleasing combination, it can be saved for later playback, and the app itself includes a few examples to get you going. There’s also an alarm built-in, for using the app for meditation sessions – or to help you not oversleep when having a quick afternoon nap.
- Free + IAP
Zombies, Run! is a fitness app that urges you on not just with stats and data, but with the threat you’re about to be torn limb from limb by the undead.
Fortunately, it doesn’t just randomly blare BRAINZZZZ into your ears – it’s a full-fledged adventure experience, co-created with an award-winning novelist. So as you huff and puff, you gain insight into a dystopian future, head out on supply runs, and try not to become lunch for a zombie horde.
For free, you get a few missions, one of which unlocks every week, and interval training workouts. But the subscription packs in hundreds of missions – enough to keep you going for many months. If you’re a fan of horror or just fancy an exercise app that isn’t all about numbers and music, it’s an excellent buy.
MyFitnessPal aims to get you fitter by helping you track what you eat. Given that such tracking often involves logging meals, the app speeds things along by way of a barcode scanner, a colossal food database and a recipe importer. If you tend to eat the same meals often, you can save favorites.
All the while, your calories are tracked, and you can check how you’re doing against any goals you’ve set. The ability to connect exercise apps also means MyFitnessPal can become a kind of hub for your general wellbeing.
As ever, there’s a pro version. This seriously ramps up data, analysis and support, with the likes of nutrient insights, tips articles and fine-grained goals. In either incarnation, MyFitnessPal works well to help you more easily understand how food intake affects you.
Runkeeper is a training aid and run tracker, which has been around for more than a decade. Since its debut, it’s evolved from mapping out your runs by utilizing your iPhone’s GPS to become a kind of digital personal trainer.
If all you’re looking for is a way to track exercise, Runkeeper remains a winning app. Whether you’re running, walking or cycling, Runkeeper provides real-time data in massive glanceable numbers, and plenty of data to delve into when you’re done.
Runkeeper Go takes things further than logging and stats. For $9.99/£7.99/AU$14.99 per month, you gain access to premium training plans, and custom workouts designed to fit your schedule and ability. The price is obviously a jump up from the free app, but it’s cheaper than a human trainer, and effective when you want more than the basics.
Streaks Workout dispenses with the complexity and problems associated with mobile exercise apps. Don’t want to trudge about in the rain? Streaks Workout has you exercise inside. Lacking kit – or even a chair to lean on? This app only demands you have access to a floor.
It’s also a cinch to focus on exercises you prefer. If you fancy doing push-ups but hate planks, tap the relevant buttons accordingly. You can then jump into a semi-randomized routine that’s between six and 30 minutes long (labelled, respectively, ‘quick’ and ‘pain’).
As of version 3.0, there’s a custom workout option, too – great for people who need to know what’s coming next and how many reps to do. We suspect some exercise nuts might still consider the app limiting, but for mere mortals wanting to get fit, Streaks Workout is among the best there is on iPhone.
Insight Heart was apparently designed to make medical education explorable and fun. This is achieved by having a realistic beating heart float before your face, via the magic of augmented reality (AR).
It’s very weird, but also oddly fascinating. After planting a human outline’s feet, the outline fades and you’re left with an organ levitating above your carpet. Go in close and the heartbeat gets louder; go really close and the heart opens, so you can explore how the blood flows.
Offering further insight, the app can show how conditions affect the heart, for those times when you’re desperate to see some arterial hypertension above your kitchen table. We want a brain app next, please.