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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))

Marl and his wife tried it out but then decided against it. "I thought, if we need an iPhone or a spreadsheet to track how we're feeding our kid, we're doing something wrong," he said.

Here's a small sampling of what else is available in the health-care and fitness category:

Lose It! (free): Lets you enter weight-loss goals, track your calorie intake, and calculate how many calories you've burnt through exercise.

Fast-Food Calorie Counter ($2.99): Offers nutritional information on thousands of menu items at 49 restaurant chains.

Vision (99 cents): Offers "eye exercises" and optical illusion tests, and lets you take tests to check for color blindness and astigmatism.

Yoga Stretch ($1.99): Plays an audio yoga session as an instructor guides you through poses. The application also displays yoga positions in sessions that last from one to 60 minutes.

Salt Shaker (free): Simulates salt falling out of a shaker when you jiggle your phone. Good for those on a low-sodium diet, perhaps?

My Life Record ($49.99): Lets you manage and access medical records including doctor information and images such as X-rays, ultrasounds and electrocardiograms. The company says it uses industry-standard encryption to keep the data safe.

Haskal said that while most health and fitness applications seem marginally useful, applications such as My Life Record show great promise.

"If your phone can access a list of your medications and maintain your medical records, and if it's password-protected and secured, it's as good as having it all in your wallet," he said. "That's something I want from every one of my patients."

Joseph O'Brien, an orthopedic surgeon at George Washington University Hospital, said calorie-counting and exercise-tracking applications might be very useful.

"If one of my patients had an iPhone, that could be a useful way to keep track of progress," he said.

O'Brien envisages an increase in the iPhone's usage in health care.

"Because it's a small computer, it's going to become more pertinent," O'Brien said.

Comments: health@washpost.com.


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