Top 10 Free Apps for Summer 2020

As some of you may know, I like a good app, one that has the perfect combination of innovation, ease of use and applicability. While the offerings may seem daunting, I’m here to offer a little guidance so you can dip your toes into the app water. At MCHM, we are focused on integrative and holistic health, so there are obviously a few options for health and exercise apps, but don’t forget that we, as human beings, don’t end at our skin. There is a world out there and I am all for exploring it! So, I added a couple of options to help get you out of your head, daily rut and the house. Let’s begin!

  1. Mealime: This free app allows you to create a profile, where you can select your allergies, preferences and serving sizes, then browse recipes from a database that fits those qualifiers. You choose your recipes, build your meal plan and BAM…a grocery list is generated for you, with the amount of each ingredient you need to purchase. You can then go through your fridge and pantry, check off items that you already have, and whittle down that list to just the items you need for the meals in your plan. Amazing, right? Well, there is more, you can then schedule your meals to fit the week’s schedule, so you don’t even need to worry about having the “What do you feel like for dinner?” conversation with your self, family or roomates!
  2. FitOn: I’ve mentioned this one a lot during my patient visits, as this exercise app allows you to pick live and on-demand workout routines that fit your preferences. If you are like me, you may want to be spending some active time outside, so maybe you just want a 20 minute stretch or strength training routine. Or, you can make it your primary workout option, and dive into the longer yoga or pilates workouts. You’ll discover the instructors you like, and you can create plans to meet your fitness goals!
  3. Insight Timer: I wrote about this in an earlier post, but thought it best to re-iterate the quality of this crowd sourced meditation app. There are tons of different instructors (Check out my friend and colleage, Dr. Danielle Lockwood!) who have created guided meditations for all of your relaxation, stress management and mindfulness goals!
  4. Libby: This is another game-changer folks! With the libraries closed over the last few months, a friend recommended this app to me, and I’m in love. All you need is a library card, and you can get e-books and audiobooks delivered to your preferred device. You just search the titles or current recommendations, borrow (or place a hold if it not currently available) and start reading (or listening)! As someone who commutes between two office locations, the audiobook option has been amazing. I just open up my Libby app, connect to my car stereo, and off I go!
  5. Windy: In Northern Michigan, we can have huge variability in wind from day to day, but hour to hour as well! Windy allows you to put in your location and you get information about the strength and direction of the wind where you are hoping to recreate that day! This is great for kayaking, paddleboarding, flying a kite or just checking to see if you’ll need that extra layer for picnicking.
  6. Merlin: This is an app from the Cornell Ornithology lab, that helps you ID birds you may have encountered on your hike, river trip or sitting on your porch. Just put in your zip code, the size of the bird, where you saw it and the primary colors and you can search birds that match those criteria to narrow down what you saw. Pro tip: listen to the audio once you figure out the bird species, and see if you can start recognizing birds around you by hearing their songs.
  7. Healthy Living (Skin Deep and Food Scores): Brought to you by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this app helps you identify foods and skincare products that may be increasing your exposure to environmental toxins or allergens. There is a bar code scanner, although it doesn’t find every item, or you can search a product to see how it ranks with the EWG. Great for comparison-shopping!
  8. Seasonal Food Guide: This app helps you identify what foods are in season in your area. Just put in your state and the time of year, and you can see a list of the produce that is in season for you! Great for grocery shopping, menu planning, managing expectations at the Farmer’s Markets and ordering at your favorite restaurant.
  9. SkyView Lite (Apple or Google Play): Have you ever looked up at the stars and thought, “Man, I wish I had studied up on constellations more.” Well, this app helps you navigate the stars based on your location. You can highlight constellations, look for planets or use the Space Navigator to help guide you when trying to place your telescope or other viewing device to view passing satellites, etc.
  10. Duolingo: Still not back to regular hours and feeling a little stir crazy? Well, Duolingo is an easy to use, interactive app to help you learn another language. It combines audio and reading lessons to help cement pronunciation and recognition of sentence structure. Choose from Italian to Japanese to Swahili, add the course and you’re learning in no time!

Honorable mentions

Podcast streaming

  • Spotify: Free or paid, with option for live streaming music or podcasts. Some podcasts may not be available if they have not started working with Spotify yet.
  • Stitcher: you can find pretty much any podcast and discover new ones based on the recommendations provided.

Workout

  • Strava: great for a lot of different outdoor activities (i.e. running, inline skating, cycling, paddling). You can see how you perform compared to previous workouts or compare how you measure up with other users.

All this is to say that there is a way to blend technology with the real world, so don’t let the overwhelming number of apps out there deter you from exploration!