Tag Archives: pocket yoga

Apps to Encourage Health and Fitness

By Tracey Dowdy

Commuting to work last Friday, I listened to an interview with a personal trainer lamenting all the newbies in the gym come January 2nd. Apparently they are all there to kick start their New Year resolutions to lose weight and get fit but instead they mostly get in the way of the “real clients.”

Not sure she had a job come Monday morning, nor do I think that’s the attitude of the majority of personal trainers, but it reminded me of all the fantastic apps that are available to help us with our health and fitness goals without having to commit to a gym membership. Accessible anytime, anywhere, it’s like having your own personal trainer – minus the judging.

Food Journaling

A big part of meeting those health and fitness goals is making the choice to eat well. It’s not just a matter of what you eat, but when and how often. Food journaling can help you manage meals and snacks and use food as fuel instead of just taking on those extra calories.

Noom Coach is a weight loss app designed to encourage life-long healthy eating habits. Instead of simply counting calories, Noom Coach offers weight loss tips, a pedometer, a color coded calorie counter (red, yellow and green, like a stop light), recipes and nutritional information to help you make wise choices. The food database includes popular restaurants to make eating out less stressful, and there’s community support through user forums. (Free – iOS, Android)

Lose It! is one of the most successful comprehensive weight loss apps to date. When you download the app, Lose It! asks for your basic information like gender, height, current weight and weight loss goal. From there, the app creates a custom plan for you. Record your food intake and activity and Lose It tracks your progress. Find recipes, search the database for exercise and nutrition information, and even use the barcode scanner to determine whether that granola is really worth it. (Free – iOS, Android, Kindle)

Nutrition Menu is available offline so you can search its database of over 100,000 foods and 149 exercises no matter where you are. Track exercise, water intake, weight loss and, if you’re counting calories or carbs, use the “Food Score” or simply record your meals and snacks in the journal. With so many valuable resources, no wonder Nutrition Menu is recommended by Fitness and Women’s Health magazines. ($1.99 – iOS, Android)

Exercise Apps

Obviously diet alone isn’t enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If your wellness goals include a little exercise, these apps are a great place to start.

Couch to 5k promises if you’ll commit 30 minutes, 3 times a week for 9 weeks, you’ll be 5k ready. You can choose from four coaches and import your own playlist to keep you motivated. Couch to 5K tracks your progress and includes many other features like counting time on the treadmill to eliminate the “it’s too cold/hot/rainy/sunny” excuse on days you don’t feel like exercising. Because each day builds on the last workout, new runners are less likely to injure themselves. ($1.99 – iOS, Android)

Pocket Yoga is another app that functions offline so you can complete your workout even without an internet connection. Choose from 27 different workouts divided by level of difficulty and duration, so whether you’re a beginner or more advanced you can find a workout that meets your needs. Pocket Yoga maintains a log of all your practices to keep track of progress. ($2.99 – iOS, Android, Windows)

30 Day Fitness Challenges offers 20 different challenges focused on arms, legs, core and strength. Each challenge lasts between 1-5 minutes, which can feel like a very long time if you’re doing planks or burpees! With 30 Day Fitness Challenges you can access tutorials, learn different exercise techniques through videos, track your progress, and get regular reminders when it’s time to work out. ($2.99 – iOS, $1.99 – Android)

If you have a gym membership and simply want help with overall health and wellness, apps like MyFitnessPal, MyDietCoach, and MyNetDiary, can help you stay on track and maintain those healthy lifestyle choices. So whether you were naughty or nice over the holidays, getting back on track and reaching those fitness and wellness goals is well within your reach!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apps for Bonding with Your Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

I recently read an article on Psychology Today that stressed the importance of bonding with our children and the impact that bond has on all future relationships, both romantic and platonic. I don’t think that comes as a surprise to any parent or caregiver.

Beginning in infancy, nurturing that relationship is critically important.  As our children get older and our lives get more complex, it may become more of a challenge to find ways to bond with your children as schedules get busier and common ground can be harder to find. Laying a foundation while they’re young will make it much easier to stay connected once those often challenging teen years hit.

These apps can help you connect with your kids during those critical early years.


bellabeatStart bonding before you even see your child face to face. Bellabeat allows you to listen to your unborn baby’s heartbeat and then share it with others. The app is a “motherhood connected community” but the unique features make it easy to share the experience with your partner. Use the calendar to track milestones, weight gain, and new developments. There’s even a fun “kick counter”.

the device retails for $129 but the app is free.
Platform: iOS, Android


meegeniusSome of my most precious memories of connecting with my daughters are when we would get lost in a story together. We read together every night before bed when they were little and reading is still how we each fall asleep most nights. MeeGenius is a vast library of over 800 books your child can read aloud with you. Enjoy classics from Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street, as well as books specially created for the app. You and your child can read along with the storyteller online, offline or on-the-go. There’s a new free book every day and five free books to begin.

Cost: the app is free but the monthly subscription is $4.99
Platform: iOS, Android, Windows


kindomaKindoma is another reading app but it is designed to help kids read with a partner remotely. It’s ideal for parents who have been deployed, travel a lot, or even grandparents in another city. Both users must download the app and have an account, but once created, it’s easy to use. One individual calls the other from within the app and both can see the book and each other as well as point to things on the page, turn pages and otherwise interact.

Cost: the app is free and comes with a small selection of classics; additional books are available as in-app purchases.
Platform: iOS


knoalaKnoala invites you to “bond with your child over games and crafts that foster motor, cognitive, sensory, social, emotional, and self-care skills.” With thousands of activities created by physical and occupational therapists, age appropriate activities are specifically curated to develop emotional, sensory and language skills designed to bring you and your child together. Dance, sing, go on a treasure hunt, but most of all, have fun connecting with your kids.

Cost: Free
Platform: iOS

Family Fitness Apps

zumba-danceStaying active together can be a great way to bond. If you’re runners, Zombies, Run! ($4: iOS, Android Windows) is a great app that combines running with self-preservation, which I have always found to be a great motivator! If your family is looking to be a little more Zen-like, an app like Pocket Yoga ($3; iOS, Android, Windows) can help even beginners of all ages learn basic yoga poses and improve fitness levels. If you’re more the dancing kind of family, Zumba Dance! ($5: iOS, Android, Windows) lets you try a variety of styles including Bollywood, hip hop, and salsa.  The app’s motion tracker helps you perfect those killer moves, so you can break them out at the next family wedding and really bond with your kids!

The common thread in all these apps is simple – spending time together. Even more valuable than a list of suggestions is an actual conversation. Sit down with your kids to find out what their interests are and, whether it’s fire trucks or fireflies, find a way to connect. The possibilities are endless.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.