FITNESS WEEK: General health
19 Jul 2012
A selection of health, first aid and fitness apps for iPhone, Android and more
So far we’ve shown you how to tone up your body and improve your diet, but here’s some more health-caressing apps that can help to relax your mind, improve your sleep, increase your flexibility and more. And if all that effort has left you exhausted, why not slump onto the couch and unwind with some sporty games instead. We won’t tell, honest.
First Aid by British Red Cross (Android, iOS) – Free
A scarily small number of us would know what to do if a loved one keeled over unexpectedly, so the First Aid app by the British Red Cross is literally a life-saver. Learn how to treat all kinds of injuries, from broken bones and burns through to poisoning and standard sprains. Each section gives advice in clear, simple steps, along with videos of how to react. More paranoid users can even prepare for all kinds of tragedies, including earthquakes, riots and terrorist attacks, using handy checklists.
As an added incentive to brush up on your medical knowledge, the developers have included a number of challenges that reward you with achievements. These are presented as multiple choice questions that quiz you on what you’ve learned in the main sections. It’s a great way to make sure you’ve taken it all in, and could really help if you find yourself in an emergency situation.
Instant Heart Rate (Android, iOS) – Free
A simple, straightforward app that takes your pulse, so you can work out your regular heart rate or see how long it takes to return to normal after a heavy workout session. How it works is quite ingenious, however. Start it up and Instant Heart Rate asks you to stick your thumb over your mobile’s camera lens. Give it a moment and you’ll see your heart rate appear on screen, displayed as Beats Per Minute (BPM).
A normal heart rate can be anywhere between 60-100BPM, so Instant Heart Rate works best if you take your resting heart rate (your pulse when you’re still and relaxed), then see how long it takes to drop to this figure after intense exercise. The fitter you are, the quicker this drop will be.
Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson (Android, iOS) – £1.89
If you’re struggling to get a full night’s sleep, chances are you feel tired and irritable during the day. You may even be drooling on this very page, head nodding on your shoulders every few seconds.
Deep Sleep aims to lull you into a long and blissful sleep using nothing more than the deep and dulcet tones of Scottish self-help maestro Andrew Johnson. Over a backdrop of calming music, Mr Johnson uses basic hypnosis and relaxation techniques to ease your mind and send you off to sleep. You can listen either via your smartphone’s speakers or with a pair of earphones, but make sure you’ve got a comfortable pair.
There’s no denying that Deep Sleep helps to switch off your mind, and the app claims you only need to use it for three weeks to enjoy a good night’s kip every night. Highly recommended for insomniacs.
Daily Yoga (Android) – Free
There are two free Daily Yoga apps for Android – one focusing on abs, the other on the back. We slapped on our gym kit and tested the abs version. A ‘posture learning’ section talks you through every position (17 available), and when you’re feeling comfortable (or the pain has subsided, if you’re as inflexible as us), you can press on with a full workout.
You don’t get to choose which postures you do in the workout, but it’s accompanied by full voice and video instructions so you know exactly what you have to do. You can also pause the workout at any time or skip between the different techniques. The workout takes around 10 minutes, so it’s a good quick fix if your diary is packed, though we’d have preferred a bit more variety and range with the postures. The presentation could also do with a makeover. A simple and cost-effective way to try out this ancient discipline.
London 2012 Join In App (Android, iOS) – Free
This official app is a great pocket guide to the Games, giving you details of every event for the Olympics and Paralympics across the UK. Find out how to get to each venue, set up a personal schedule so you know what’s on when, and let your mates know where you’re off to with the usual social sharing features. Don’t worry if you missed out on tickets either, as the Join In app lists cultural events and big screen sites in your area, so you know where to gather with your fellow luckless sports lovers.
The app is updated in real-time with the latest news and happenings, so even if you can’t be bothered to leave the flat and join in with the festivities, you can still keep tabs on the latest medal winners. Overall, this is an in-depth guide to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games that sports fans should download immediately.
And don't forget you can now grab the official BBC London 2012 app...
Check back tomorrow as the masochism of Fitness Week ends, with a little treat...