Our Health Helper of the Year shortlist was hugely varied, from top calorie counting services and one of our favourite activity trackers through to apps designed to ease stress, clear up our minds and another to expertly keep tabs on fertility. What an exciting time for health-related tech! Now even your average Joe (and Jane) can take their health and wellbeing into their own hands more than ever before with the help of their gadgets and their mobiles.
But the overall winner is (without a doubt) Headspace. The app has taken off in a phenomenal way this year by attracting legions of dedicated followers (both individuals and big corporations) and bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the masses. This simple-to-use app is packed full of video tutorials, handy animations and calming programmes, which are all designed with regular users and meditation beginners in mind. Headspace’s most recent update made the basic programme even more accessible with better visualisations of each user’s journey, mindful moment reminders and ‘singles’, which are valuable little nuggets of meditation for when you really need to calm yourself down.
It’s great that Headspace, and fellow nominee Buddhify, made it into our shortlist, proving that health isn’t just about making physical changes, watching what we eat or exercising, but keeping our mental health and wellbeing tip-top is just as important.
The Jawbone Up24 (read our full review) bags our Highly Commended award because not only does the device get us moving, it’s also a great tool for tracking calories. The killer combination of the slick-looking band and Jawbone’s app allows you to accurately track how many calories you take in AND how many you burn, painting a comprehensive picture of how you’re doing throughout the day. Although it didn’t have as big an impact on our wellbeing through 2014 as Headspace did, it’s still a great all-singing, all-dancing wearable if you’re keen to keep tabs on your health.
Like Headspace, Buddhify brings meditation into our everyday lives without being too confusing, pretentious or hard to find time for. The app’s user experience is well-designed, with a wheel of meditative practices that you can explore in more depth. And you don’t need an empty room to use it: there are options for walking around the city and practices to get you off to sleep.
This calorie-counting and fitness tracking app earned its spot on the list because its huge, user-contributed food database makes it the best for keeping a handle on what you consume. It’s also really easy to use and has a community of like-minded health-conscious people, all eager to motivate each other to make long-lasting lifestyle changes.
For years, fertility planning was a complicated process involving huge amounts of data collection and tracking. The team at Glow have squeezed all the most important bits into their Android and iOS apps, helping you track your periods, chart your fertility and record health and wellbeing changes. It also provides you with health tips, reminders and a dedicated community of fellow trackers to talk to. We also love the fact the app works with MyFitnessPal, Fitbit and others.
Withings Smart Body Analyser
Some of the top fitness, health and wellbeing tech brands have brought out their own scales over the past few years, but the Smart Body Analyser from Withings is our clear favourite. So much more than your mum’s bathroom scales, they serve up data about your weight, fat mass and BMI, as well as tracking your heart rate and even analysing the air quality in your room. All the data feeds into the Healthmate app, and can be shared with third party apps and services. You can set up profiles for family members too, so you can all share the same set.
Huge congratulations to Headspace and Jawbone – it was a healthy competition, but you guys won by a stretch.