Hack your health: a guide to tracking yourself to a happier, healthier you – The Guardian

These days, we take our healthy lifestyle with us everywhere we go: in our ears, on our wrists and inside our phones. But with so many options, how do you know youve found the right fit and how do you know where your money would be best spent?

Spend a few minutes to make sure youre using the best tools and understand the ways you can be supported in achieving your goals.

We know that even a few minutes of physical activity is good for us. Wearable tech makes it easier to keep track of how youre moving, whether youre getting your heart rate up, and what more you could be doing.

Dedicated fitness devices such as Fitbit and Garmin Vivoactive take out some of the manual input, syncing automatically with tracking apps.

If you like something fancier, smart watches have loads of features and there are so many options you can afford to be choosy. For hardcore adventure, check out the Garmin Fenix series. Serious athletes can opt for a performance tracker and vest, complete with inbuilt GPS. If a brisk walk with your dog is more your style, a luxurious Fossil watch might suit.

Todays best smartwatch models can perform lots of tricks, like searching the internet with your voice, tracking your location with GPS or even monitoring your heart rate to protect your overall health. Photograph: Halfpoint Images/Getty Images.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital to a long life. Fresh vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and lean meats will all support a strong body.

Look into biomarkers: anything that can indicate something about your health. Measuring these markers can help you to better understand your body and recognise when things seem out of balance. Talk to your doctor about starting with a full blood test to look at cholesterol, vitamin counts and organ function.

You can also measure some of these markers on your own, and use online personal test and dashboard apps such as InsideTracker or i-screen. Otherwise, pharmacies often have free blood pressure checks, while your wearable or smart watch probably has a heart rate tracker built in.

As an added bonus, a healthy diet is also better for the environment, which is good for everyone.

Getting a massage, going to the physio or getting a chiro treatment shouldnt just be reserved for when youre injured. Treat yourself to these preventative therapies regularly for overall body and mind health.

The great news is, if you have health insurance, you may be able to get a rebate for all these services. Health insurance covers more than just hospital visits. These days, you can enjoy all kinds of preventative healthcare, such as dental, optical, physio and massage.

Just as you expect your devices, apps and fitness gear to work for you, so should your health fund. There are two types of health funds: those run to benefit investors and shareholders, and those run to benefit members. Look for options that put people before profits, and make sure you know how to choose the right fit.

Health funds that are not-for-profit or part of a not-for-profit group are designed to give back to members. There are funds for different occupations, regional areas and community groups, and you can find yours through websites such as the Members Health Fund Alliance.

Regularly assess and review your fund to make sure its focus is to give back to members thats you. Youll usually find it means extra money in your pocket.

Whatever your healthy lifestyle choices, theres an app to help you stay focused. Most apps sync with wearables, but if thats not for you, they also have manual options.

If youre just starting out, apps such as Couch to 5K can ease you into a healthier lifestyle and encourage you along the way. MyFitnessPal is a simple way to monitor food intake, while Sleep Cycle will let you know if youre getting quality sleep.

For a more complete program, opt for an app that covers exercise regimes, food and mental wellbeing. Apple Health allows you to collate and organise all your data (including third party) in one place, around activity, mindfulness, sleep and nutrition. Strava is a popular choice for runners and cyclists, or check out Centr, which has the added bonus of Chris Thor Hemsworth. The be.come project is holistic, with a focus on loving how you feel.

If youre into weightlifting, Strong will keep you motivated, while Yoga Studio is ideal for those of us who like a good stretch. And if you want something a little different, Zombies, Run! will help you stay fit while you outrun the apocalypse.

Podcasts are rapidly becoming a favourite way to get information, so its no surprise there are lots for fitness. The Dumbbells is a funny series hosted by health-loving comedians, while Sparta Chicks focuses on practical empowerment.

Work, Play, Love is all about balancing the realities of life with being your best self. If youre interested in biohacking and pushing your body to the limits, you might enjoy Bulletproof Radio or diving into the latest in cutting-edge medical research with Rhonda Patrick of Found my Fitness or Peter Attia MD of The Drive.

And if youre just looking for great entertainment while you work out, these podcasts will have you hooked.

Staying healthy isnt just about exercising well and eating right. You have to keep your mind nourished, too.

Guided meditation and mindfulness apps, such as these by Andrew Johnson, will bring you back to emotional balance. Making time for friends and family can improve your sense of wellbeing. And make sure youre getting a good rest, so youre ready to tackle tomorrow with gusto.

To learn more about Members Health and the funds that put people before profits, go to membershealth.com.au.

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Hack your health: a guide to tracking yourself to a happier, healthier you - The Guardian

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