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Smartphone Applications Include Health-Care and Fitness Options

Smartphone applications, often free or nearly free, include soothing sounds, fitness data and menstrual calculations.
Smartphone applications, often free or nearly free, include soothing sounds, fitness data and menstrual calculations. (Tmsoft (White Noise), Medical Productions (Ifitness), Winkpass Creations (Iperiod))

"The key thing to remember about all these things is you can't iPhone your way to your fitness," said Ziv Haskal, an iPhone user and the chief of vascular and interventional radiology at University of Maryland Medical Center. "Unless what you want is really muscular fingers."

One of the most popular fitness applications is iFitness, which for $1.99 offers pictures of hundreds of exercises and lets you log workout information.

Haskal says the portability and functionality of the phone offers many benefits. "If something like iFitness logs information and prods you, then that's good, positive reinforcement," Haskal said. "But looking at pictures won't make you fit."

A free application called Live-strong lets you log your daily workouts and track how many calories you are burning.

It also allows you to log the food you eat every day. Type in "granola," "milk" and "orange," and it instantly logs the calories, making estimates for quantities (a cup of granola, a cup of milk, one orange). It can also pull calorie information for items on popular restaurant menus.

Joseph Misiti, a 25-year-old software engineer who lives in the District, has uses Livestrong to help him count calories, and it has changed his eating habits.

"It's been helpful but depressing," he said. "It's pretty easy to start consuming 4,000 calories without realizing it if you're going out to eat and drinking."

As his New Year's resolution, Misiti gave up his favorite restaurant.

"Before . . . the information wasn't as accessible," he said. "As soon as I got this free application, . . . I definitely don't go to Chipotle anymore."

A few applications help women monitor their periods. Cycles is one of the free ones. You input the date of your last period, and the application predicts the dates of your next periods, your ovulation days, and the days you will be most fertile. It's all displayed on a month-by-month calendar.

For $3.99, you can buy iPeriod, which offers similar features but stores more information and offers colorful icons (smiley/sad faces for mood swings and lightning bolts to symbolize cramps).

And for women with infants, there's a swanky application called Baby Tracker for $7.99. When you're about to start nursing, you just tap a button marked left or right breast to start a timer that records your nursing times and dates.

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