How My iPhone Helps Me Keep My Health On Track

AD When I was at school (and yes I am talking way back) I used to borrow my Nan’s phone in an attempt to look cool. Beyond the status symbol aspect I couldn’t do much with it apart from playing Snake. I had no idea twenty years ago that one day my phone would be an integral part of my fitness routine. Using a combination of the standard features of the iPhone 12, a selection of downloaded free apps and a few add on pieces of kit I can monitor how I am doing health wise, identify patterns and improve my fitness. 

An iphone 12 being held with a range of apps to support wellness
I have a range of apps on my iPhone to support Wellness

How My Phone Supports My Health

Help Getting to Sleep 

I have my iPhone set up so that at my bedtime (10pm) it automatically goes into Do Not Disturb mode. This means it doesn’t keep buzzing with notifications encouraging me into apps before I remember half an hour later I was trying to sleep.  I could go one step further and schedule “Downtime” which means that before I can access any apps a warning will pop up reminding me I shouldn’t be in it. I actually have the Downtime set up on my children’s devices which are part of my family account so they can’t get into apps after their bedtime without me entering a code on my iPhone which is pretty cool. 

So my phone helps cut out distractions and encourages me to go to sleep, and then in the morning I can see how well I have slept. I find this interesting because it’s often not the sleep quality of one night that affects how I feel, but multiple nights in a row. I don’t look at it and go “oh I slept eight hours why am I so tired?” but I do think “ok I got a good nights sleep and I’m exhausted, what do I need to adjust to have more energy?”. I have also used it as evidence to my partner of how little sleep I had and how many times I got up with our children over night! If I am struggling to get to sleep I play some white noise from Apple Music or listen to a meditation on the Headspace App. I monitor my sleep through my Fitbit watch which syncs with the Fitbit app on my phone.

A hand holding an iphone set up to show the sleep section in the apple health app
You can set up sleep time on the iPhone so you aren't disturbed by notifications at night

Monitoring Movement

My Fitbit also monitors my movement and steps during the day. The Apple Health app which comes preinstalled on the iPhone 12 is pretty good at providing this information too and has some good stats about how much I am moving compared to normal, but as I don’t have my phone on me all the time the step count is more accurate from my watch. 

Getting More Active

On the days when I want to get more active I use apps to support my fitness. I have the Couch to 5K app which helps me get running again at a gentle pace after each time I have a break. This is good because it talks you through the intervals you should be walking and running, but you can also have music from your phone playing at the same time.  I have various upbeat running playlists on my Apple Music which are perfect motivation. Getting wireless headphones was an absolute game changer for me when out running by the way, no more getting tangled in wires.

I’m a bit of a data geek and I love to see how far I have run and how fast, or slow, which means even when I am using the Couch to 5k app I also have Nike Run Club going in the background. Lots of my friends use Strava for tracking their running or cycling, and I think it looks great, but I have a long history with Nike Run Club. It is now able to track my route, pace and elevation through the app on my iPhone, but back when I started using Nike plus (as it was then) I had to put a little device in my shoe and then sync it with my computer after the run, which would upload to a website. So I actually have data on the app going back to 2010 and I absolutely love that. It constantly encourages me to push myself that little bit harder and run a little bit further to beat previous personal records.

Tracking my Weight

I have had an iPhone for over 12 years and while each time I get an upgrade the phone gets smarter and better it means that there are some apps I have been using for a really long time and I can see a huge amount of history. One of these apps is iPeriod which tracks my menstrual cycle. While they have changed it a lot over the years and increasingly functions require the paid for version, I can see my weight history going back to 2009. It is tracked on a graph which shows any gradual weight gain or loss helping to motivate me to stay on track. When I want a bit of extra help monitoring my food intake I tend to use My Fitness Pal. This app lets me scan the barcode on foods and quickly record what I’m eating. Just the process of logging what you eat has been shown to reduce calorie intake because it makes it more visible to you.

Tracking my Migraines

iPeriod has also been hugely helpful over the years because so many things are linked to my menstrual cycle. Obviously it is useful to have a reminder when my period is due, but it also showed me the days I was most likely to be fertile which helped when we were trying for a baby. The app doesn’t stop there though. It allows you to track your mood and various “symptoms” like bloating, nausea, insomnia and food cravings so you can identify any patterns. I record when I have migraines which allowed me to identify that they are linked to my cycle and I can now predict when they are likely to happen.

So my phone helps me to sleep better, it motivates me to get fit, supports my journey and even helps me to identify how hormones are affecting my mood and health. That’s a long way from playing Snake in the Sixth Form common room.

***This post is a collaboration with O2, but all thoughts and experiences are my own***

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