Whether you’re trying to better manage your money or stay mentally or physically fit, you might be surprised what you can find in the app store.
While there’s not much the average person can do to stop the spike in new COVID-19 cases – shy of social distancing, wearing a mask and regularly washing hands – technology may help reduce the financial and emotional impact of a “second wave.”
In fact, there are several apps for iPhone and Android devices, designed to help individuals and families in several ways.
Whether you’re trying to better manage your money during uncertain times, or stay mentally or physically fit through it all, you might just be surprised what you can find at the App Store or Google Play.
The following are a few recommended downloads for your smartphone or tablet.
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De-stress, focus, sleep
Especially given the stress many are under, it’s recommended to take mental breaks throughout the day or to help fall asleep. Freemium apps like “Simple Habit” offer a variety of sessions. (Photo: Handout)
There are several apps tied to mindfulness and mediation, including Simple Habit, designed specifically for busy people.
After all, not many of us can afford to take an hour out of our day for Tai Chi by the beach or online yoga classes.
With 5-, 10- or 20-minute lessons, the app features more than a thousand meditations guided by mindfulness teachers from around the world – and for a more tailored lesson, you can choose the time, place and cause of your stress. For example, tap Tough Day, Morning, Commute, SOS or Sleep.
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You can also pick a lesson by Series (such as Simple Tips for a Meaningful Life or Let Go of Anxiety), and by Teacher of your choice (check out Julie Seibt’s nearly 140 sessions).
Several dozen sessions are free, with the option to upgrade to a premium subscription for unlimited access to more than 2,000 meditations (and new videos added weekly), the ability to download when offline, tracking progress, and more.
Better manage finances
COVID-19 isn’t just a health crisis – but has spawned a financial crisis for many. Personal finance apps like Simplifi, powered by Quicken, can sync with your bank and credit card accounts, and more, and show you a snapshot of your financial picture. (Photo: Handout)
Especially given the unexpected and unprecedented year we’ve endured, many are trying to get their finances in order.
Apps can help you clearly see what’s coming in and going out, to ensure you’re staying in the black.
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Powered by Quicken, this personal finance app and website, provides a snapshot of bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments (with more than 14,000 financial institutions supported), and is always up to date.
Simplifi automatically categorizes transactions, to show where your money is going, with an intuitive and elegant interface. The ad-free app can also project future balances, to help avoid setbacks and surprises, and help you work towards a goal.
Prices start at $2.99 per month.
Eat better, get fit
You’ve heard of the ‘Freshman 15,’ but what about the ‘COVID 19’? Shed excess weight you’ve amassed since the start of the pandemic with apps like Lose It! (free to start), which can help you achieve your weight loss goals. (Photo: Handout)
Finally, while many are preoccupied with keeping their family safe (and fed) during the pandemic, they might be neglecting their own physical health.
Apps can help you get back on track.
The free Lose It! has you set a goal – such as lose 10 pounds in four weeks – and the app will then calculate what should be your caloric intake each day. Tap in what you’ve been eating (by food, such as “one large banana”) scan the box of a brand, like a “DiGiorno Original Rising Crust Three Meat Frozen Pizza,” and it will show the calories you’re consuming (and even fat, sodium, and so on, if you like).
Exercise is also factored into your daily routine.
A similar app is MyFitnessPal, with more than 11 million foods and restaurant dishes in the database, plus you can scan product barcodes to automatically log the caloric info per meal.
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Similar to Lose It!, all app info is synchronized with the web version of MyFitnessPal, should you want to log in on a computer.
For exercise, Map My Fitness lets you easily calculate the impact of your physical activity – whether it’s a walk, jog, run, hike, bike ride, and so on.
Your workout is analyzed – including your time, pace, and estimated calories burned – so you can see you progress and stay motivated. The app can also connect you with other users in your area to join a group. If you like, you can even share your fitness goals and results with your social network. Devices, like activity trackers and heart rate monitors, are also supported.
To work out in the safety of your home, many also use the Peloton app to access thousands of live and on-demand video classes.
You don’t need Peloton equipment to take advantage of this app, featuring a collection of exercise videos, led by celebrated instructors, and covering several different kinds of exercises. (Photo: Handout)
Taught by dozens of instructors, there are several kinds of workouts to choose from, ranging from running and strength training to cycling and yoga to HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Many stream workouts from a phone or tablet to a big-screen TV.
After the 30-day trial, a digital membership costs $12.99 per month.
On a related note, the just launched Peloton Bike+ offers several enhancements over its predecessor.
The 24-inch HD touchscreen, with integrated soundbar, can now swivel around if you want to continue your workout on a mat for stretching, yoga or strength training. Also new is an “Auto Follow” feature on Bike+ that can automatically adjust your tension (or resistance) to the instructor’s callout.
Designed primarily for spinning and cycling, Peloton Bike+ focuses on its live classes led by motivational instructors, or if you prefer, pre-recorded video classes where you can choose the length (from 5 to 90 minutes), difficulty level, style of music (recommended: Prince Run with Andy Speer), exercise theme, and instructor. There are even scenic rides through beautiful locations, and such.
Peloton Bike+ starts at $2,495, plus there’s a monthly cost to access the classes, too. The original Peloton Bike has now dropped to $1,895.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at marcsaltzman.com/podcasts.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
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