Nutrition and fitness help is as close as your smartphone

WASHINGTON — Smartphones play a role in so many aspects of life that it should come as no surprise that apps can also help people live healthier as well.

More and more people wear health devices such as step counters to improve their health. But that’s just one segment of what’s available. Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires has been reviewing some of the more popular apps that are focused on fitness, cooking and grocery shopping.

One of those apps has a dual benefit: Charity Miles made PC Magazine’s list of the top fitness apps of this year. Corporate sponsors will donate a few cents for every mile that you walk, bike or run. “You don’t have to do anything other than download the app,” Squires said. “And this might provide you with some additional motivation to keep moving, knowing that you are actually earning money for charity.”

Thirty charities benefit from corporate sponsors such as Chobani and Humana. They’ve raised about $1.7 million so far.

If you’re short of time for a full workout, the 7-Minute Workout app only takes that long, and the only equipment you’ll need is a chair:  No gym is required. “At this point, there’s really no excuses … we can find seven minutes for a workout,” Squires said.

Other fitness motivators include Sworkit, which received high marks last year from the American College of Sports Medicine. It provides workouts ranging from five to 60 minutes that don’t require any equipment. A premium version offers low-impact workouts for beginners and older adults for a fee.

For runners there is Runkeeper, which helps runners connect with a large community of others who are dedicated to lacing up and hitting the pavement.

Squires also shared one of her favorite cooking apps — Epicurious.  “There are literally thousands of recipes,” she said. “I use it at the grocery store as I try to plan out the week’s meals. And the recipes are rated and reviewed with input from social media … so you are getting feedback from people like you.”

And if you are looking for an app to make your weekly grocery shopping experience easier, Squires said List Ease creates grocery lists that can be shared. It also creates an inventory of grocery items you already have at home; bar codes can be scanned so you don’t have to type everything, and it even offers grocery coupons.

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