Categories: Lifestyle

Free Online Tools To Help Keep You In Shape

Having good mental health and exercise is important in finding (and keeping) a solid routine to practice work-life balance. The problem? It can be difficult to stay motivated each and every day, as well as track progress to help push yourself to reach higher goals.

Whether you’re doing great with your personal health and exercise plans or aren’t quite sticking to your resolutions, everyone can use some extra help and support to stay in shape. And, it’s even better if you can find free tools and technology. In fact, with access to a wide variety of websites, apps, blogs and videos to learn about diet, exercise, weight loss and general wellness, it’s never been easier.

The Apple Store alone has more than 40,000 health and wellness apps. But they aren’t the only ones who are happy to help you reach those mental health and exercise goals (we are, too!), so here are some great choices for digitally improving your health and wellness game.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal helps you track your daily calories and nutrients using your smartphone or computer. You can create a free personal account to store, track and review your personal data. You can also integrate your information with 50 other devices, such as fitness wearables.

LiveStrong

The LiveStrong website provides a wide variety of tools, including a calorie counter, articles library, recipes database, food analyzer and the LiveStrong MyPlate tool. MyPlate lets you create daily meals and snacks based on your weightloss and healthy eating goals. MyPlate helps you set and track weightloss goals, as well.

SparkPeople

This four-stage diet programs offers a variety of support tools to help you set personal goals, create plans to meet them and then track them. Want to know how many calories that cup of soup you’re about to eat has or how many grams of protein that sandwich contains? SparkPeople can help. You can keep a daily food log and add your personal recipes for analysis.

Kaiser Permanent Thrive Together

Health insurance provider Kaiser Permanente has created a comprehensive blog loaded with health and wellness information free to the public. Thrive goes more in-depth with science, aiming to help you reduce your risks for diseases and condition like poor blood cholesterol, Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

Free Newsletters

Want to make sure you stay current with the latest information? You can get high-quality newsletters from the Harvard School of Medicine, the New York Times and WebMD delivered to you weekly.

Fitness Wearables

For many years, heart rate monitors were the only wearables for fitness buffs who wanted to track their heart rate and calorie burn to help track their mental health and exercise goals. Heart rate monitors are still excellent tools, but they’re slowly being replaced by more comprehensive fitness trackers like FitBit and Nike’s Fuelband.

If you want to start with a free fitness monitor, look for apps that track your heart rate and steps. Use these as more of a fun guide, rather than a serious monitor, warns the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. They’ll still give you an idea of what you’ll get when you pay for a more accurate wearable.

When you’re ready to buy, here’s a helpful article that shows you how to pick a heart rate monitor.

App Stores

You can find tens of thousands health and fitness apps covering pretty much every aspect of wellness. Many are free and low-cost. Before you visit an app store (and get overwhelmed), write a list of health categories to search. For example, you might be interested in weightloss, nutrition, triathlon training, exercise routines, calorie tracking or step counting.

MeetUp

MeetUp is for more than just sports and social get-togethers. Check your area for MeetUp fitness groups. If you’re not ready to commit to an intense workout group, look for a dog-walking group in your town.

YouTube

Make sure you’re using the correct technique for each exercise that’s part of your workouts. You’ll maximize your calorie burn and avoid injury by using YouTube to watch exercises by trained professionals.

ACE Fitness Exercise Library

Another great source of exercise videos is the American Council on Exercise exercise library. You can search by type of exercise or by body part you’re looking to train. The ACE Fitness website contains lots of other information on diet and exercise, such as calculator tools and recipes.

BMI Calculators

Want to know what your ideal body mass index is? You’ll need to go to a health professional to get your exact target BMI, but you can get a pretty good estimate using a free BMI calculator like the one found at the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

USDA Dietary Guidelines

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture works with doctors, dietitians and other health professionals across the country to update its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. You’ll find tons of information for healthy eating, including a daily calorie guide that helps you find your target based on your age, sex and activity level.

Local Health Care Provider Websites

Many local health care providers offer free health and wellness information to the general public. Idaho residents, for example, can visit the Healthy Living area of the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center website to find videos, blog articles, free classes and events and newsletters.

All images via Getty

Steve Milano

Steve Milano is a journalist and business executive/consultant. He has helped dozens of for-profit companies and nonprofits with their marketing and operations. Steve has written more than 8,000 articles during his career, focusing on small business, careers, personal finance and health and fitness. Steve also turned his tennis hobby into a career, coaching, writing, running nonprofits and conducting workshops around the globe.

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