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Apps I Wish My Students Would Use (Part 2)

A while back, I blogged about a few apps that I wish my students would use. The apps were selected based on the impact they can help create in one’s own health.

Since that last post, a lot of great health apps have launched. So, I figured I should write an update with some of the new apps that I really wish my students could use on a regular (if not daily) basis.

1. Headspace

Headspace Screenshots

Meditation is in dire need for a rebrand. So many people I talk to about it just brush it off as something reserved for monks and hippies. However, with all of the amazing health benefits meditation provides, there is no reason it shouldn’t be a daily practice for everyone.

I’ve mentioned Headspace a few times on The #PhysEd Podcast, and I will mention it again here. The app/service provides users with a free 10-day guided meditation program (called Take 10 since each session only takes 10 minutes to complete). Although Headspace’s paid programs are quite pricy, the free Take 10 program is, in my opinion, enough to teach people the basics of meditation.

I’ve used the app in my physical education unit on stress management and the students enjoyed taking 10 minutes to slow down and give their minds a rest.

Learn more about Headspace at their website (they also have a bunch of great animations to help explain meditation) or check out their app on the App Store, Google Play, or the Amazon Appstore.

2. FitStar: Tony Gonzalez

FitStar Screenshots

I’m a sucker for beautifully designed apps, and that is exactly what FitStar: Tony Gonzalez is. Think of the app as a digital personal trainer: you select the program/session you want to participate in, perform the exercises under the app’s guidance (their HD videos let you know how much time/how many reps are left, and Tony Gonzalez coaches you throughout to make sure you maintain proper form), and then let the app know how that last exercise felt (e.g. too easy, just right, or brutal). The app will then tailor your next session around your needs (which is just a very smart use of data).

Although the app’s complete programs cost $4.99/month, there are a bunch of free “Freestyle” sessions for you to workout with (including the Scientific 7 Minute Workout).

I have been using FitStar:Tony Gonzalez with my elementary students as an after-school fitness activity and the students are loving it. I think that high school students would get an even bigger kick out of the app as it can actually help coach them to meet any fitness goals they may have. Also, signing up for the paid programs includes daily email nutrition tips/strategies that are based on your health goals.

Learn more about FitStar:Tony Gonzalez at their website and find the app on the App Store.

3. Yoga Studio

Yoga Studio Screenshots

More and more, I find my students are requesting yoga as a lunchtime or after-school fitness activity. There is no doubt that yoga has been growing in popularity over the past few years, and a lot of my students practice yoga at home with their parents.

Yoga Studio is my go-to app for yoga. The HD, guided sessions come in a variety of durations (e.g. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes) and target a variety of objectives (e.g. relaxation, flexibility, balance, and strength).

Personally, I use the app almost every day at home (my girlfriend and I try to get a yoga session in everyday after work).

Yoga Studio is $2.99 in the App Store.

4. UP by Jawbone

UP Screenshots

Ok, so this last one might be a stretch considering that you need a Jawbone UP activity tracker to use the app, but I’m still going to include it here.

I know a lot of you are FitBit users, and I’ve heard nothing but great things when it comes to that device, but I LOVE my UP. The tracker itself is nicely designed, never falls off, and rarely fails me (I have had some situations where the band reset itself before I could sync it… but the new Jawbone UP24 syncs via Bluetooth so that should eliminate the problem). That being said, my favourite part about the UP experience is the app.

Jawbone’s UP app is well-designed, provides the user with a ton of activity/sleep data, and provides you with options to track your mood, meals, and water intake. Forgot to put your band on sleep mode? The app will guess when you got to bed/when you woke up and suggest adding those hours as sleep.

Everyday, the app provides you with new insights/tips based on your UP stats. Also, the app occasionally sets up a challenge for you (e.g. “Today walk 15 000 steps” or “Today drink 8 glasses of water”) that, again, is tailored based on your stats. If you enjoyed doing the challenge, the app even provides you with an option to make that challenge a reoccuring event.

Finally, the app integrates with a few other apps I use. All of my FitStar, Runkeeper, and MyFitnessPal data automatically appears in my UP feed and adds to my daily totals. My UP activity can be used as an IFTTT trigger for various recipes, which becomes really cool when you get a WeMo switch (I sync my UP when I wake up, and soon as I do, IFTTT turns on my tea kettle via my WeMo).

I understand that the band can be pricy for my students (the original UP is $129 and the new UP24 with Bluetooth sync is $149), but, in a perfect world, it would be something that I wish they all had access to.

You can purchase an UP or UP24 on Amazon and find the app on the App Store and Google Play Store.

So there are some of the apps I wish my students would use. Be sure to check out the original post for even more health app ideas, and make sure to leave any app suggestions you may have in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and happy teaching!

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

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