It’s that time of year when the tank tops start taunting us from the back of the closet.
Chances are, your health has taken the backseat this winter, steamrolled by hibernation on the couch watching Netflix and a cold-weather aversion to salads.
Yet with summer around the corner, our priorities are suddenly rearranged by the 60 degree days creeping in every week and the beach vacation we’ve added to the calendar.
But getting back to the basics of health—exercising regularly, prepping healthy meals and minimizing stress—doesn’t have to be time consuming.
Save time traveling to the gym (and the hefty membership fee) and skip the hours of googling meditation instructions and nutrition advice. Instead, open up the app store and download one of these health-focused apps that will help you get things back on track in no time (no seriously, they take mere minutes out of your daily routine).
Improve Your: Fitness
Set aside time time in the morning, during your lunch break, or before you sit down to eat dinner to bang out a mini-workout. The app will cue you to get into position and have you doing everything from high-intensity jumping jacks to push-ups to planks. The exercises are serious toners (that will work up a sweat), but in a seven minute time frame it’s easily accessible to everyone and hard to justify not making time for it in your schedule.
Improve Your: Diet
Making the swap from takeout to homemade may be the hardest change about cleaning up your diet. SideChef provides cooking-for-dummies style instruction (with a foodie-approved interface). The app guides you through over 2,500 recipes with step-by-step instructions in multiple forms: we’re talking text, photos, videos and even voice instructions and integrated timers for hands-free cooking (no more trying to scroll through a recipe with your elbow while your hands are covered in flour). Plus, it shows you basic techniques and how-tos like cutting an avocado and fun facts and tips about your ingredients. You’ll be a whipping up healthy meals like a pro in no time.
Improve Your: Mental health
There are dozens of factors at play when it comes to our emotional wellbeing—and identifying and then working on correcting all of those things can be time consuming. Enter: Happify. Based on answers to an initial survey, the app recommends one of over 30 tracks focused on a specific area of your life that is influencing your happiness, including “Conquering negative thoughts”, “Coping better with stress”, “Building self-confidence”, and “Fueling your career success”. Then, based on the track you choose, the app will guide you through a series of science-backed games and exercises designed to boost your emotional well-being. And because you’re responsible for completing just one or two activities per day, you can work on improving your mental health with just a few minutes of effort.
Improve Your: Fitness
We all should be weight training, but it can be hard to know where to start (after you complete some bicep curls you draw a blank) and even harder to stick with it. This app takes all the guesswork out of weight training, telling you which exercises to do, how much weight to use and for how many sets and reps, how long to rest between sets (based on how easy or hard your last set was), and automatically repeats the weight if you fail to get five reps on every set. Each time you successfully complete a set, the app will automatically increase the weight for the next workout so that you gradually build strength over time, without having any confusion at the dumbbell rack.
Improve Your: Mental Health
More and more scientific research is supporting the health benefits of meditation (from reducing anxiety and depression to lowering blood pressure and boosting your immune system), but as a beginner it can feel intimidating to start. The Headspace app teaches you mindfulness and meditation in just ten minutes per day. After you complete 10 days of free 10-minute meditations you can purchase the app to get access to hundreds of guided and unguided lessons that range from 2 to 60 minutes long (so that you can squeeze one in quick before you head out in the morning, or really dedicate some time to unwinding when you get home from a particularly stressful day.) Our favorite feature? The three-minute SOS exercises designed for when mini meltdowns hit. (You know, after you get stuck on the train for 30 minutes or have a last-minute project thrown at you).
Improve Your: Fitness
Are you really serious about whipping yourself into shape for summer? Considering hiring a personal trainer to help you get the job done? TRN is a new app that provides on-demand, immediate access to the most qualified fitness specialists in the city (right now the app is available in NYC and Miami, but will be released in more cities soon.) You can choose an elite-level personal trainer across four different disciplines: General Training, Yoga, Pilates and Swimming, who will come to your desired location (whether it be your home, gym, office, or the local park). Oftentimes, hectic schedules prevent us from being able to schedule a one on one session far in advance (and risk a cancellation fee if a last-minute meeting ties us up at work). The app allows you to browse the available specialists based on your location and desired time (even same day). Plus, user profiles that include medical history, goals and obstacles are available to the trainers so they can get to know your history ahead of time (which saves you from wasting 10 minutes filling out a questionnaire or answering questions before your workout). Simply book a trainer and pay them right through the app.
Improve Your: Diet
Dining out is hard enough for those of us just trying to eat healthier, let alone if you’re trying to lose weight or sticking to a specific diet like Paleo or vegan. But you don’t have to turn down every dinner invite or spend an hour wandering the neighborhood in search of a menu that has something other than the house salad that fits your diet. HealthyOut allows you to search meals in over 500 cities by different filters depending on what you’re in the mood for, whether you want to keep it under a certain calorie count or fill a Mexican craving. The dishes you’ll find have half the calories and fat of the average restaurant meal. You can filter meals by pretty much anything: nutrition tags like low calorie, low carb, low fat, high protein; Dietary restrictions like vegetarian, vegan, lactose free and gluten sensitive; and by popular diets like Paleo, Atkins and South Beach. The selling point: You can even find dishes by their most popular filter, “Not a Salad”.