Imagine this: You’re looking for the perfect mobile app for your corporate wellness program. It needs to excite employees and be easy to use. You search “health and fitness” in the iTunes app store and see 5,022 results—that is, 5,022 results that begin with the letter ‘A.’ The number of health-themed apps has ballooned in the last few years. How do you pick the best wellness app for your workplace?
Wellness technology expert Debra Lafler can help. During a recent webinar, the University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management instructor said, “No one perfect wellness app exists. Each has pros and cons.”
But, Lafler did share her four favorites. All are excellent choices if you want to boost participation in your corporate employee wellness program.
1. The Official 7-Minute Workout
As fitness apps go, Johnson & Johnson’s free 7-Minute Workout app is extremely popular. It features simple body-weight workouts you can do anywhere. And you can combine and mix workouts so you never have to repeat the same ones. Added bonus: The Smart Workouts feature gauges your fitness and motivation levels and recommends a customized workout.
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2. MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter
With this free app, you can easily track what you’re eating. It allows you to count calories, set goals, and keep a food journal. The nutritional database is remarkably thorough—for example, I found the “Essential Everyday Dry Roasted Lightly Salted Peanuts” I was eating while writing this. Lafler says MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Counter is the nutrition app many workplace wellness managers recommend to employees.
3. Lose It!
Lose It! is another of Lafler’s favorite free nutrition apps. It tracks your meals and exercise in a fun and visual way. Like the MyFitnessPal app, it’s easy to use. Set your daily calorie budget, record what you ate for meals, and subtract the calories you burned while exercising. Also, based on an uploaded snapshot of your food, the wellness app can identify the type of food and its nutritional content. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
Lafler’s final pick: Headspace. The app teaches you how to meditate and practice mindfulness through guided, ten-minute sessions. It has a lot of devoted users (including Emma Watson). During the sessions, you can focus on one of three areas: health, performance, or relationships. You can learn to apply mindfulness to everyday activities, like cooking. The only downside is the subscription fee, but if you want to try the app, you can sign up for a free ten-day trial.
Thinking About Using a Wellness App?
During the webinar, Lafler shared three things that workplace wellness managers should consider.
- Find out what people want. Assess your coworkers’ wellness technology wants and needs. The best way to do this is an interest survey or media habits survey.
- Test the app mercilessly. Have your friends test it, too. The last thing you want is to have your coworkers download the app and then discover issues with it.
- Be ready for resistance. Some people don’t have smart phones. Others don’t like using apps. So, you need to have an alternative way for employees to take part in a wellness initiative. Also, consider hosting a Lunch and Learn to teach coworkers how to download and use the app. All technology can seem daunting at first. Getting coworkers comfortable with using it is half the battle.
Want to learn more about how to best use wellness technology? Lafler teaches an entire course on it called “Survey of Information Technology in Wellness.” Find out more by visiting the University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness Management curriculum page.
You can also watch the full wellness technology webinar with Lafler here.