“You can’t change what you don’t measure.”
If anything encapsulates the potential for self-tracking to transform our health, then it’s that statement.
The so-called life-logging revolution is already well underway after technological advancements, ‘big data’ and key influencers like co-founder of the Quantified Self Gary Wolf have created opportunities and raised awareness. The revolution is slowly shifting us away from the old paradigm of self testing ‘after-the-event’ of sickness/symptoms, to a more proactive approach of gathering data when we are feeling ‘normal’, and using it to optimize health and wellbeing.
We can use tracking for anything that we want to see improvements in. Chances are, you have already tried self-tracking. Ever kept a food diary? Used a calorie or fitness tracker? This is quantification.
And there are no drawbacks to this kind of physical self-awareness (although we need to know how to get the most from tracking tools to generate actionable insights. We also want to avoid self-tracking becoming a source of stress!)
Below is a round up of some apps, sites, wearables and other tools that you can use to track your health. (The list is focused purely on quantifying – data gathering – tools. At some point there will be a Part 2 looking at techniques and tools we can use to optimize health. Stay up to date by subscribing to our email list).
Apps and sites
Comprehensive fitness-tracking app with well designed food diary. Records information about your weight and weight-loss goals, and calculates a recommended calorie budget for the day.
Allows you to record food, weight and exercise, add and search recipes, add friends, join a group challenge, and create a journal.
Does everything that MyFitnessPal does including calorie tracking, nutritional information breakdowns and syncing with plenty of third party fitness trackers.
Most seamless weight loss system available – has large food database and integrates with your devices like pedometers.
Consolidates all your different apps to track your nutrition, sleep, workouts, and health.
Website where you can track your body information (weight, body fat percentage), workouts, nutrition, and challenges completed.
Allows you to create personalized diet and fitness plans, track calories and workouts. Has several partner sites, including SparkRecipes, SparkPeople Mobile, dailySpark, SparkAmerica, SparkSavings, BabyFit, and SPARKteens.
Science-driven approach that aims to help members lose weight through ‘points’.
A scientifically-based program designed to address challenges of achieving and maintaining your ideal weight.
A social game for web and mobile that allows you to ‘check in’ foods and drinks.
Amazingly useful website which allows you to track a food’s glycemic load and inflammation factor, and gives breakdown of carbs, fat, and protein.
Simple mood and exercise tracking platform. Offers mood tracking too.
Online calorie counter and diet journal allowing you to track diet and nutrition as well as the number of calories burned from various activities. Claims to be the most comprehensive food and activity search engine on the web, with over 45,000 different foods.
Offers various tools to track food consumption, physical activity, diabetes, recipes, and loops biked or ran. Food tracking is done using the MyPlate tool; you can search for foods in their database and it will automatically calculate calories.
Contains the largest offline food database of any iPhone calorie counter (over 400,000 foods).
App that allows you to photograph the meals you eat – then estimates how many calories you ate!
Website and app with calorie counter, food journal, and workout tracker.
Tracking tools for endurance athletes and coaches.
Claims to help you manage weight in six seconds per day.
Like having a ‘coach in your pocket’. You log what you eat and learn the impact of various foods.
App designed specifically for runners and cyclists.
One of longest running trackers, the app even tracks training gear, so you know when it’s time to buy a new pair of running shoes.
Users start by taking a fitness test to assess their fitness level, and then the app designs a plan based on their favorite forms of exercise.
iPhone app that automatically records walking, cycling and running.
Like ‘Siri for fitness’; an app that is assisted by experts.
Easy and social workout tracking.
Tracking weight loss goals via text.
Track over 40 areas of your health and fitness to improve your wellbeing.
Track all your workouts.
A location tracking running app.
An app and service that tracks fitness activities from across your devices, as well as manually entered data, and calculates a ‘health score’.
A fitness tracker for action sports like surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding.
Easy-to-use tool for logging strength training workouts.
Designed to more accurately track running activity.
Fitbit flex wristband
During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks your sleep quality and wakes you silently in the morning. Links with your iPhone.
Bracelet that comes with a mobile app, and tracks whether or not you’re burning calories each day and meeting your basic fitness goals.
Bracelet that you can use to track your activity during the day, your sleep at night, as well as log food intake and mood to give you a better overall picture of your health, happiness and calorie input and output.
Activity and sleep monitor.
Tracks steps, runs, sleep and is waterproof to 50m.
Smartwatch that is customizable with apps.
Uses GPS to accurately track running, cycling and swimming with live pace and distances.
Wristband loaded with sensors, which include an optical scanner to track blood flow (i.e. heart rate), a perspiration monitor, and skin and ambient temperature monitors to measure workout intensity.
Tracks fitness across multiple sports, including yoga and swimming (it’s water-resistant to 30m).
Water-resistant in-ear headphones that can track your heart rate.
Bracelet that delivers feedback and analysis in real time.
iPhone-powered fitness tools that use data gathered through sensors in a rubber band you can attach to your bike.
Provides full body sensing – a comprehensive understanding of your body composition to help you reach your fitness goals.
One of the most accurate pedometers on the market. You don’t have to wear it in a specific position in your pocket, you can wear it horizontally or vertically.
Accurate and reliable method for measuring bodyfat percentage.
Electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits – it alerts you when you are eating too fast!
Withings smart body analyzer
Records your weight, fat composition, heart rate and environment data.
Tracks weight, lean mass, body fat percentage, and body mass index.
Allows you to track weight and body mass en masse (for up to 10 users)!
Apps and sites
App that uses your phone’s accelerometer to measure movement in bed and pinpoint REM cycles, so it doesn’t wake you up when you’re in deep sleep.
Android and iPhone app which tracks your sleep and analyzes habits and sleep and make suggestions about how they relate to each other.
Diagnoses sleep based on a single signal – the heart rate.
Tracks and remembers dreams.
A simple way to track and improve your sleep.
Slowly removes the blue light from your phone when the sun starts to set outside.
See also wearables listed under ‘fitness’ above.
Device that measures eye movement, sleep waves, heart rate, and muscle tension with complete accuracy.
A lightweight shirt with embedded sensors and breathable material to allow users to move freely throughout the night and maintain maximum comfort.
Small node that you fix to your skin when you sleep. Helps to diagnose conditions.
Clips to your pillow.
Range of watches which monitor sleep states using physical signals.
Sleek looking device that works by tracking your sleep patterns and then waking you up during your lightest sleep phase.
Ultra-thin sensor tucks under your bed sheets and gathers data on sleep quality, duration, heart rate and respiration rate.
Uses your phone’s camera to measure your heart rate so that you can estimate your level of stress.
Allows you to see stress levels in real time.
Sensor which plugs into your phone and connects to your earlobe to monitor your heart rate.
Portable biofeedback device designed to help reduce stress by synchronizing breathing with heart rate. The device is a standalone unit that doesn’t connect to a computer, instead displaying heart rate variability on a graphical display on the device itself, and indicating when to breath using visual cues.
(Wearable). The first stress watch. Not on the market yet.
Heart rate variability tracking and stress reduction.
The best way to know if you have out of balance cortisol levels.
Anxiety apps and sites
App based on cognitive behavioral therapy. Hits five areas of anxiety and includes guided relaxation and meditation methods, goals, and breathing exercises. You can also track your thoughts and mood.
Allows you to record thoughts, anxieties, and worries, and the app will give anxiety-reducing advice.
Lets you use a sliding scale to show how worried or anxious you’re feeling. It will walk you through calming or relaxation practices and can also connect you with other SAM users.
Use this app to track your worries so you can later visualize them and assess whether they were realistic.
Use the app’s journal to record what cause panic attacks and how you were able to get through it.
Cognition and mood
Apps and sites
Over 20 carefully designed tests that cover many aspects of cognitive performance.
Aims to help you to better understand yourself and your ever-changing mood.
This app provides a toolbox of cognitive tasks that can be used to measure your arousal level, memory capacity, and multitasking abilities.
Offers tracking for people with cognitive disorders.
Site helping you to keep tabs on your moods through use of cards.
Micro-journalling with analytics – to help you to make better decisions.
Interactive mood diary. Lets you get anonymous support from other users.
Brain sensing headband that measures your brainwaves in real-time.
Wearable biosensors measure brainwave EEG and heartbeat ECG signals.
Uses EEG signals to quantify focus.
Wireless headset that monitors your brain activity and translates them into meaningful data.
A wristband which provides insight towards our mental state and agility.
Happiness and meditation apps and sites
Record what you’re grateful for each day.
Allows you to track your happiness and find out what factors are associated with greater happiness for you.
Lets you to schedule and prioritize your tasks, keeps track of when you last did a particular activity.
‘Quantifies spiritual growth by letting you keep track of your daily meditation and attention levels, and track them through a digital calendar.’
Simplifies meditation by allowing you to set times.
Heart health and blood pressure
Apps and sites
Real-time physical exams using your smartphone.
Uses the iPhone camera to measure heart rate.
Track heart rate by using your finger.
See also wearables listed under ‘fitness’ above.
Wellness tracker that tracks heart rate, hrv, respiratory rate, blood oxygen and more.
Continuous heart rate monitor.
One of Polar’s more complex and top of the line heart rate monitors.
Track your calories, activity, stress and sleep, without wearing a chest strap. It’s all in a watch on your wrist.
Wireless wrist or arm blood pressure monitor.
Wireless blood pressure monitor.
Two minute home cholesterol test. The device has three varieties of test strips which allow you to test for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol or triglycerides.
Blood testing/diabetes management equipment
Sophisticated, tailored blood analytics.
Blood analysis platform – users upload test results themselves, and track progress.
Help you to track a ketogenic diet (one for Paleo/Bulletproof devotees).
Blood glucose testing devices.
Continuous glucose monitoring.
Mobile, cloud-based diabetes management.
Blood glucose meter that connects with the iPhone. Easy sharing with healthcare professional.
Easy to use system which provides blood glucose meters, test strips, lancing devices and diabetes management software.
DNA, microbiome and nutritional testing
At home microbiome testing kit.
DNA ‘spit kit’.
DNA analysis which tests over 40 different genes linked to training performance and nutrition.
At home nutritional testing.
Uses your phone’s camera sensor or a heart monitor to check your pulse after eating – idea is to help you to detect allergies.
Apps for women
Helps women track and better understand their cycles.
Helps women wanting to conceive.
A digital self breast exam device.
App that lets users track period-related data like start date, end date and things like mood, symptoms, temperature and notes.
Sophisticated ovulation calendar that tracks ovulation, mood, symptoms, and even medications to help pinpoint your next period, whether you’re attempting to get pregnant or trying to avoid it.
Some others (misc.)
Drinking diary – Web application that lets you record how much alcohol you’ve been quaffing.
Waterlogged – App that helps you to monitor water intake.
EyeNetra – Eye test device that connects to smartphone.
Caffeine Zone 2 – App that provides a simulation of caffeine amount and some indications of the psychological effects.
Bedpost – Web app that tracks sex life.
CarePredict – An activity tracker to help empower seniors who want to live at home.
LumoBack – Tracks posture.
MYO – Muscle activity monitor (armband).
Beambrush – Toothbrush that tracks when, how often, and how long you brush your teeth.
Sano –Patch to continuously monitor bloodstream – realtime.
Proteus Ingestible Sensors – Swallow a pill that can transmit health information to a mobile device.
Cubesensors – Indoor environment monitoring sensor.
Mymee – Easily log and track many vitals for health to learn what triggers various issues.
One Second Everyday – Create a video timeline by recording one second every day.
Quotidian – Software to visualize time and events.
Tonic Self Care Assistant – Integrative tool that remembers and track all health and wellness activities.
Mint – Monitors breath quality. Not yet on the market.
What self-tracking apps, sites and tools do you use to monitor your health? I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch in the comments below.