Apps to help achieve New Year's resolutions

Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:39pm IST

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REUTERS - Whether it is improving health or managing finances better, about 87 percent of Americans will make resolutions for 2013 and there are plenty of apps to help them achieve their goals.

Nearly half of New Year's resolutions are about setting health-related goals, which is the most popular category, according to a recent survey by online broker TD Ameritrade.

Rather than jumping into a rigorous fitness routine, a new app called 5K Runner suggests it might be better to ease into things slowly and focus on building sustainable habits. The iPhone app helps couch potatoes ramp up their running distance to 5 km over the course of eight weeks.

"You're slowly building this routine into your daily life with a lot of success and after eight weeks you're literally running 5K, which is pretty big if (initially) you're not running at all," said David-Michel Davies, the executive director of T he Webby Awards, an annual ceremony honoring Internet companies.

The app guides runners through each run, alternating periods of running and walking for 35 minutes.

Davies also recommends Nike+ Running and RunKeeper, two popular and free fitness apps, which use GPS to track distance traveled, speed and calories burned. Both apps are available for iOS and Android devices.

Diet is another component of good health and a focus of many apps. Fooducate is an iPhone and Android app that helps shoppers make healthier purchases at the supermarket by allowing them to scan the barcodes of products and get insight into how healthy the product is.

Their database, which contains over 200,000 products, displays a grade for the product and information on its contents. It can show whether there are hidden additives or the probability of containing genetically modified ingredients.

"There are a lot of healthy people out there who unknowingly buy products that have an inordinate amount of salt in them," Davies said.

DietBet is an app for people with a competitive streak. Available for iPhone and on the Web, it allows its users to join in a four-week weight loss challenge to lose 4 percent of weight. Everyone bets money, which goes into a fund, and submits proof of weight lost. People who meet the challenge split the money.

"It comes back again to how people get motivated," Davies said. "Gamification is something that technology has really enabled and for some people it really works."

To stay on top of finances, Davies recommends Mint, which provides a visual view of all financial accounts and is available for iOS, Android and on the Web.

(Reporting by Natasha Baker in Toronto; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Eric Beech)

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