The best health, diet and exercise apps for iPhone
Our favorite iPhone apps for keeping fit, workouts, reducing stress and relaxing.
Dark Noise is a refined, premium take on ambient noise apps. At its most basic, it lets you trigger audio loops that can help you focus or relax – the likes of white noise, rainfall, and crackling fires. The interface echoes the best iPhone apps in its refinement and elegance.
But there’s also plenty of customization on offer. You can combine several sounds into a personalized mix, to which you can assign a custom icon. The interface can be tweaked, including the app’s colors and widget. There’s extensive Shortcuts support too, giving you the means to use Dark Noise as part of a bedtime routine.
There are of course plenty of freebies that offer similar core functionality, but none of them have the same level of class, polish, and care that is evident here, making Dark Noise well worth the outlay.
Moodistory Mood Tracker
Moodistory is a low-friction journal for tracking your mood. The idea is to note how you feel, and over time build up a picture of how your mood changes.
The app is low-effort. It doesn’t stress you out by adding to your load. If you like, you simply rate your current mood and leave it at that; should you wish to add context, basic journaling is available.
Over time, your input builds to fashion a grid-like color-coded calendar, and graphs that outline your mood distribution and average week. If it turns out you’re always unhappy on a Tuesday, perhaps there’s something on that day you can change.
With customization options, theming, and Apple Watch support, Moodistory is an excellent addition to any iPhone wellbeing toolkit.
Streaks Workout is an exercise app that marries immediacy and depth. To quickly kick off a workout, tap a time. The app will formulate a routine on your behalf, barking orders as exercises switch. Options range from the relatively easy six-minute ‘Quick’ to the frankly masochistic 30-minute ‘Extreme’.
When you have the time and inclination to plan, there are plenty of additional options. You can toggle specific exercises on and off, or add your own, stating how long a rep takes, and whether it should be timed or counted. Want an entire custom routine? That’s possible, too.
Continue to use Streaks Workout, and the app will log your history and streaks. You can set weekly goals, and the app links to Apple Health. It will even track workouts across devices should you start on an iPad or Apple TV. So now there’s no escape from getting fitter.
Cosm is designed to calm and focus your mind, through ambient audio composition – and journaling.
The music bit resembles Brian Eno’s Bloom app, with you tapping the screen to simultaneously play notes and have shapes appear from beneath your digits. Your taps coalesce into a semi-random repeating loop.
But Cosm differentiates itself from Bloom in key ways. There are multiple instruments to select (albeit from an awkward picker), and the option to define tuning. Also, there’s the writing bit.
This suggests you align soundscapes with how you felt when making them. But the text fields are blank, and so it’s down to you to decide how to use them – while Cosm gets on helping to make your mind a calmer place.
Paprika Recipe Manager
Paprika wants your main companion in the kitchen to be your iPhone. With the app, you can store clippings from foodie websites. Recipes are intelligently saved offline, and can be edited. You can even add photos of your successes, thereby giving you something to aim for next time!
The app also supports everything else about mealtimes. You can create grocery lists, track what’s in your cupboards and when ingredients expire, plan meals that are synced with Calendar, and create reusable menus.
The app’s not the most vibrant in its class, and lacks the handy step-by-step imagery and videos found in the likes of Kitchen Stories and Tasty, but for getting on with the business of planning and making meals, on an ongoing basis it deserves the app equivalent of a Michelin star.
Streaks is a to-do manager all about helping you form good habits – and ridding yourself of bad ones. You begin by selecting a task and defining how often you want to do it. Tasks are subsequently checked off, and you can track your progress by way of the app’s various graphs and statistics.
Where Streaks succeeds is in the flexibility of the tasks you can add, and the razor-sharp focus on getting habits infused into your routine. The bold interface is ideally suited to six tasks, forcing you to prioritize. You can set reminders, and mark items as done using the Today widget or an Apple Watch.
Task types are varied. There are those that integrate with Health, negative tasks (like smoking) to avoid completing, and timed tasks for things like meditation sessions. In all, it’s an excellent app for coaxing out a better you.
- Free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP
White Noise+ is an ambient noise machine, which aims to drown out distractions by filling your ears with something pleasant instead.
Rather than just offering you sounds to play, or sliders to adjust volume levels, it takes the form of a mini mixing desk akin to the smart drums grid in GarageBand. You drag sounds into the 16 available slots, with those towards the top playing at a louder volume, and those towards the right offering more complexity. It’s intuitive, effective and looks really great as well.
Neatly, should you happen upon a particularly pleasing combination, it can be saved for later playback, and the app itself includes a few examples to get you going. There’s also an alarm built-in, for using the app for meditation sessions – or to help you not oversleep when having a quick afternoon nap.
- Free + IAP
Zombies, Run! is a fitness app that urges you on not just with stats and data, but with the threat you’re about to be torn limb from limb by the undead.
Fortunately, it doesn’t just randomly blare BRAINZZZZ into your ears – it’s a full-fledged adventure experience, co-created with an award-winning novelist. So as you huff and puff, you gain insight into a dystopian future, head out on supply runs, and try not to become lunch for a zombie horde.
For free, you get a few missions, one of which unlocks every week, and interval training workouts. But the subscription packs in hundreds of missions – enough to keep you going for many months. If you’re a fan of horror or just fancy an exercise app that isn’t all about numbers and music, it’s an excellent buy.
MyFitnessPal aims to get you fitter by helping you track what you eat. Given that such tracking often involves logging meals, the app speeds things along by way of a barcode scanner, a colossal food database and a recipe importer. If you tend to eat the same meals often, you can save favorites.
All the while, your calories are tracked, and you can check how you’re doing against any goals you’ve set. The ability to connect exercise apps also means MyFitnessPal can become a kind of hub for your general wellbeing.
As ever, there’s a pro version. This seriously ramps up data, analysis and support, with the likes of nutrient insights, tips articles and fine-grained goals. In either incarnation, MyFitnessPal works well to help you more easily understand how food intake affects you.
Runkeeper is a training aid and run tracker, which has been around for more than a decade. Since its debut, it’s evolved from mapping out your runs by utilizing your iPhone’s GPS to become a kind of digital personal trainer.
If all you’re looking for is a way to track exercise, Runkeeper remains a winning app. Whether you’re running, walking or cycling, Runkeeper provides real-time data in massive glanceable numbers, and plenty of data to delve into when you’re done.
Runkeeper Go takes things further than logging and stats. For $9.99/£7.99/AU$14.99 per month, you gain access to premium training plans, and custom workouts designed to fit your schedule and ability. The price is obviously a jump up from the free app, but it’s cheaper than a human trainer, and effective when you want more than the basics.