11 mind and body activities you can track with an app

There's data coming out of our ears, literally. We've scoured the apps and wearables market to bring you this guide to how devices are using our bodies to collect data and analysing it to improve our health.

1. Stress

Heart rate variability can be used to indicate stress levels.  Wearables use heart rate sensors while mobile apps use the phone's camera to do the same. Plotted over time you can identify a pattern and adapt your behaviour to see change.

2. Memory

Regular mental exercises have been found to improve short term memory and concentration. Apps like Memory Trainer gamify these exercises and track your progress over time to show your improvement.

3. Happiness

Some health apps include questions to track your happiness  over time, providing regular tips to improve your happiness. Others ask you to complete a journal or use games to change your behaviour and boost happiness.

4. Sleep

A good night's sleep is essential to wellbeing and health. Wearables such as the Microsoft Band use sensors to track your heart rate throughout the night. They use this data to plot your levels of restful and light sleep, how many times you've woken up and the efficiency of your sleep.

5. Body measurements

Almost all body measurement apps rely on data inputted by the user, but how the data is collected, tracked and used varies. From target setting to body shape and composition estimates, body measurement tracking can provide inspiration for a healthier you.

6. Heart rate

Your heart rate is a key component in tracking technology. Sensors in wearables track your heart rate through your skin and apps use this data to identify sleep patterns, exercise, calories burned and stress levels.

7. Medical conditions

No app can diagnose health conditions, but the Apple Health app allows you to store your known conditions and contact details  in an emergency card accessible from your lock screen providing essential information for first aiders.

8. Movement

Movement throughout the day is essential for a healthy body and mind. Wearables can track your activity throughout the day using step counters and heart rate sensors, learning the patterns of your activities and sending reminders to move.

9. Distance

In-built GPS technology in phones and  wearables can track your routes and calculate the distance traveled. Apps can store this data to track your performance over time and set targets to help motivate you in your health journey.

10. Speed

Using GPS in both wearables and smartphones and timer technology apps can calculate the speed that you run, walk or cycle at using the speed = distance/time equation helping you to pace effectively when training  or improve your overall speed.

11. Calories

Using sleep and exercise data, wearables are able to provide an estimate of the number of active and resting calories you burn each day. Some apps use barcodes to track your calorie intake and can cross-reference this data to see where your calorie balance lies.

Last updated Tuesday 29 March 2016

First published on Monday 22 June 2015