Tech Tips for College Health
Surviving college has become nearly impossible without the use of technology. We often forget how lucky we are to not have to sift through card catalogs at the library to find information. Luckily, technology has made helpful improvements beyond the stacks of the library and into tracking our daily lives, so why shouldn’t we utilize that technology to regulate our health? From apps to wearables, here are some tech tips to help you avoid the freshman 15 and stay healthy throughout your college career.
Food tracking is one of the hardest parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially when it’s combined with the busy and stressful lifestyle of a college student. Keeping a food diary is a consistently recommended tactic for achieving weight loss. It helps you maintains awareness of what and how much you eat day to day–as long as you are honest about it. Despite this being a great tactic for managing your weight and food habits, no one wants to take out a food journal and write down their meal everywhere they go. Luckily, there are tons of helpful food tracking apps that allow you to log your meals on the go; as a bonus, the best ones are free.
- My Fitness Pal: This app has a log of over 2 million food items and allows you to log your daily calories, water, and activity level. It also helps you set weight maintenance or loss goals and provides you with recipes and moral support.
- Calorific: If logging numbers isn’t your cup of tea, Calorific allows you to log your calories by red, yellow, and green labeled foods. Instead of keeping track of every calorie, Calorific generates a pie chart showing the healthy to unhealthy ratio of your daily food choices.
Did you know that most Americans are chronically dehydrated? Simply drinking when you are thirsty isn’t enough to keep your body healthy; in fact, dehydration can cause a lot of problems like kidney stones, poor concentration, and fatigue. Hydration boosts your metabolism and makes you more productive, a helpful trait in college. If you are struggling to get enough water and need a daily reminder, these apps can help.
- Water Alert: If you need free reminders throughout the day to drink water, this app is for you. One of many water calculators, this easy to use app is fun to watch as your water glass fills up.
- Aqualert: This app calculates your daily water intake needs based on height and weight. As it sends you reminders throughout the day, it provides visual logging to regulate your water levels.
One thing guaranteed in college is a high level of stress. Trying to balance several intensive classes with work, a social life, and adequate sleep is like the punchline of a bad joke. Stress can cause overeating, depression, and even heart disease, all of which can be avoided. The top three causes of stress worldwide are money, self-pressure, and lack of sleep, so let these apps help regulate your levels.
- Stress Check: This app is a test that provides you with an overall stress score with insights into the main causes of stress in your life. After your assessment, the app also offers actionable recommendations.
- Mint: Tackling the stress of budgeting, this app keeps track of all of your accounts and payments. Money doesn’t have to be a stress with this virtual balance sheet.
- SleepBot: This sleep cycle tracker allows you to customize your sleep tracking, record your movements and sounds at night, and set reminders to wake up, relax, and hit the pillow.
- The Mindfulness App: There’s been a large movement to implement mindfulness meditation into our busy lives. Mindfulness allows you to manage your stress and become more present in your life. This app is a great guide for anyone from beginners to experts.
Part of the fun and social aspect of college often revolves around the next great party, and most parties involve alcohol. Whether you drink or not, you will often run into it at a social function. Being aware of the dangers of not drinking responsibly can impact your health or the health of your friends. Not only is alcohol packed with calories, but it can lead to other problems. Track your intake with these useful apps.
- How Drunk: Tracking your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through estimations based on what you drink and your body information. This app alerts you when you become sober or reach the legal driving limit.
- Drink In My Hand: This app tracks your calories and carbs from a searchable directory of over 400 drinks. Keep track of your intake and get alerts when you should stop drinking. This app also allows you to call a cab.
Activity Tracking Wearables
Fitness tracking through wearable technology is a hot topic these days and can be a great tool for monitoring your overall health. Although it’s a more expensive solution to fitness tracking, it gets a more accurate and honest read of your daily activity. One in six people currently use wearable activity trackers daily, but everyone has their own opinion about which is the best. Out of all of the options, these two are arguably offer the best bang for your buck.
- Fitbit Charge HR: This Fitbit is the cheapest to offer heart rate tracking, which allows you to track more accurate data. The app is easy to use and has social challenges that you can share with your friends. It also has caller ID capabilities and silent alarms to wake you up or alert you throughout your day.
- Jawbone UP2: One of the best values in fitness tracking is the Jawbone, which offers accurate fitness tracking as well as a lightweight and comfortable design.
People tend to think that fitness tracking will instantly improve their activity levels, but it is important to remember that it takes honesty and hard work to stay fit. Taking the stairs, playing on intramural sports, and setting aside time to either make it to the gym or take a walk outside will help you meet your fitness goals. When using your apps and wearables, make sure to honestly input your food and water in order to see real improvement.
One of the great advantages of technology is the tracking capabilities that remind us to take better care of ourselves. That being said, technology can also be a detriment to your health and mental wellbeing. Don’t eat while using technology, don’t fall asleep to Netflix or any other streaming services, and use technology responsibly to maintain levels of privacy on the internet.
Your data is personal and can help you achieve your goals if use it daily and don’t give up.