Editor's Picks

A Doctor Weighs In On Health Apps, And Whether Or Not They Actually Work

One doesn’t even need our Prime Minister’s reminder about the rising numbers of diabetes cases to know that exercise and eating healthy is good.

Since our primary school days, we’re reminded about the importance of incorporating a few hours of exercise weekly into our busy schedules to keep scary-sounding diseases at bay.

However, before we had the wonderful gifts that technology had given us, we are not able to keep track of their achievements and progress – especially for those who are looking to lose some extra kilos.

Mental noting down the number of calories consumed and burned a day can be even more tedious than the exercise itself.

But thanks to the proliferation of activity trackers like Fitbit bands and the default Health apps in our smartphones, not being able to set and keep to fitness goals is an excuse we can no longer make.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/464222674063133282/
Image Credit: dribble.com

However with the plethora of health-related apps out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by sheer number of them.

So, we decided to pick out some of the essentials (available for both Apple and Android users, no worries) that you can try out, and we got Dr. Ivan Puah from Amaris B. Clinic weigh in (geddit, geddit?) on how they could be helpful.

Healthy 365

Screenshots of the Healthy 365 app

If you’re looking for something that’s endorsed by the Singapore Health Promotion Board itself, Healthy 365 is the way to go.

Personally, I have the app on my phone, and it helps me track my food intake and also my daily steps count.

By having both features available on the app, I’m able to find out if I’m consuming a tad too much for my activity level (for example, given the nature of my job, I’m pretty sedentary) and perhaps gain an insight on why I’m gaining all those extra pounds.

Besides, having a reminder of how many steps I’ve walked also motivates me to move more if I’ve been sitting on my butt for too long for a particular day!

P.s. For those of us with long hours at work, walking as a means to commute back and forth from home and office is actually a convenient way to get some extra steps in!

What does the doctor say?

Personally I find this app to be very useful. The best part of this app is that, unlike other apps, it tells us the calories of food that we encounter locally in Singapore. I do recommend it to patients who are on our weight management programs. It helps us provide valuable dietary advice for our patients.

Get the app for iOS and Android!

Runkeeper – GPS Track Run Walk

Screenshots of the Runkeeper app

Now that you’ve gotten the motivation to get your fitness on, you’re going to need something to track the distances that you’ve covered – especially if you prefer the great outdoors to the clammy air-conditioned gym.

Runkeeper is an app that helps you track your runs, set goals, and most importantly – stay motivated in your fitness journey.

Especially useful if you’re looking to join one of the many marathons organised throughout the year, the app also promises to help you create personalised running routes to fit your schedule and end fitness goal.

Getting fit can be a lonely journey, so the app alleviates this by letting you add buddies whom you can challenge and share your achievements with.

Tech site CNET calls it “the granddaddy of running apps”, and its longevity is proven by the usefulness of having it in your phone.

What does the doctor say?

I had tried several ‘running apps’ and I find that this one is quite decent. It is useful for those who like to track their runs and performances. I will recommend this to those who like running and analysing their workout at the same time.

However in my field of work, we do encounter many patients who would like to lose weight, but do not like to run or may have physical injuries/disabilities that prevent them from doing so. For these patients, we partner with a specialised studio to provide them with tailored-made low-impact workouts for weight loss and targeted fat burns.

Get the app for iOS and Android!

Zombies, Run!

Screenshots of the Zombies, Run app

If running towards a fitter body isn’t attractive enough for you, ignite your ‘flight or fight’ instincts with this app, which combines running with an audio adventure.

Every run that you embark on using the app becomes a mission, and places you right smack in the middle of your own zombie adventure story, where you need to collect supplies to grow your ‘home base’.

With over 260 story missions, get to live out your dreams of a healthier self alongside becoming the protagonist of a zombie-action movie!

Perhaps what’s best about the app is that it’s a very effective distraction from the aching muscles and heavy panting you’re doing as you build up your stamina.

Count me in!

What does the doctor say?

This app is not too bad. For those who like to track their fitness activity and analyse their workout concurrently will find this app helpful and useful. However we do have patients who are interested to lose weight or have fat pockets with physical limitations. As such, exercising is not an option for high intensity workout.

To solve this issue, we partnered with HYPOXI, a specialised low-impact fitness studio, that has tailored weight loss and targeted fat reduction programmes.

Get the app for iOS and Android!

Men’s Health Fitness Trainer

Screenshots of the Runkeeper app

But running isn’t for everyone, and some prefer instead to opt for workouts to strengthen their core and tone up some of their jiggly bits.

Created by long-running magazine Men’s Health, their Fitness Trainer app gives you access to over 500 workouts and 1,000 exercises! And it’s not just reading that you’ll be doing – the app also includes videos alongside the instructions. Weekly stats are also crunched for you to track your fitness progress.

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more on the app, you’ll also be able to get access to all their content (in HD, no less), and even get nutritional tips for different workout goals.

You can even create your own workouts with their Workout Creator, and access monthly and annual stats – useful for those who are looking for a slower and steadier approach in their fitness journey.

What does the doctor say?

The best part about this app is that it gives you access to many workouts and exercises to choose from. It is like having your own ‘personal trainer’ to advise you on the types of workouts to suit your needs. These workouts, if performed correctly and regularly, are useful to help users lose weight or be physically fitter. 

This app is particularly useful for my patients who opt for liposuction or VASER Hi-Def Lipo to improve their abs or love-handles, before and after the treatment.

Get the app for iOS and Android!

Exercise For Man Boobs

Screenshot of the gynecomastia app

Gynecomastia, or ‘man boobs’ are a problem that while not widely spoken of, causes some Singaporean men a lot of pain.

It’s not just embarrassment that they feel, some also feel physical pain – like the gentleman I interviewed last year.

This app is made for men who are looking to reduce their unwanted humps, and it gives you advice on how you can get rid of them by exercising and working out.

What does the doctor say?

One of the most popular treatments at my clinic is for ‘man boobs’ reduction. Based on my experience, patients often have many misconceptions about this condition. This app certainly does not help users to understand the full extent of ‘man boobs’ or gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia can be caused by several factors. Weight gain or fat accumulation around the breasts is just one of the many possible factors. Losing weight from exercise may help a few but it certainly won’t resolve the issue for many others. Treatment options such as gynecomastia surgery may depend on the severity of the condition. I would advise affected individuals to seek experienced doctors for medical opinions and not relying on apps!

Get the app for Android!

Apps Are Helpful, But Only To A Certain Extent 

Judging from Dr. Ivan Puah’s reviews, having a healthy lifestyle and fit physique might mean that you’ll need to do much more than just downloading another app.

Many times, getting rid of stubborn fats require surgery, and while that sounds extremely invasive, the procedures offered at Amaris B. Clinic are anything but.

For example, its Vaser Liposelection (VASERlipo) procedure is a minimally-invasive liposuction technique that targets unwanted fat cells, while leaving important tissues such as the nerve, blood, vessels, and connective tissues largely undisturbed.

Men with gynecomastia, or ‘man boobs’, would also find comfort in the fact that their problem can be solved under the skillful hands of Dr. Ivan Puah.

The clinic also offers a myriad of treatments for various problem areas and weight management issues that men might face, so check out their website to find out more!

This article was written in collaboration with Amaris B. Clinic.

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