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What gets measured, gets managed: our favourite wellbeing apps

What gets measured, gets managed: our favourite wellbeing apps

Using various apps and related routines can help you get to the results you want (or help understand why you're not getting the results), increase awareness, expand knowledge or develop a habit. My favourite under-appreciated motivation of using the self-tracking apps is that it is just a way to think more deeply about something that's going on in my life.

Having tested different wearables and apps, I came to the conclusion: What gets measured, gets managed, and after it gets managed, it doesn’t need to be measured anymore. Take food tracking or meditation: once you learn and build a habit that serves you, you don't need to continue tracking with "obsession." Actually that can even be stressful. Just think of technology as food: eat just enough and you’ll feel great; consume too much, and you’ll have a problem. So, what are the best wellbeing apps worth your attention?

Wellbeing apps: our top picks

Nutrition Apps

Zero​

This is AURUM CXO Stefan's favorite app. When you dig through the data, it starts to get pretty exciting to go hungry. Choose one of 5 suggested fasts or you define yours and join Dr. Peter Attia and hundreds of thousands of people fasting. You can start with a custom circadian rhythm fast based on Dr. Panda’s research. This type of fast has two goals: 13-16 hours of fasting, and eating as close to sunset as possible. Research shows eating late into the night can be detrimental to your health. You're convinced of fasting, but asking why self-tracking your fasts and feasts?

  • A great motivator to start your Monday well (especially after a weekend full of brunch, lunch and dinner)
  • Motivation to have dinner earlier so that you can enjoy an earlier breakfast or lunch the next day
  • Track how fasting affects your heart rate, sleep quality, and recovery
  • Be reminded to appreciate and enjoy food more

If you’re looking for an option in German though, try BodyFast.

Carb Manager​

Carb manager is known as “the best” among keto diet apps because it’s one of the most comprehensive on the market. But just as you don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat in a vegetarian restaurant, you don’t have to go keto to use the app. It’s great if you want to learn about the macronutrients of the food that you eat in a day, control the volume and stay on track while you’re building better eating habits. What you'll learn in this app is that fiber does not count to carbs which will surprise and excite at times.

Workout and Movement Apps

Strava

The one and only app that our performance coach Oli uses. Whether preparing for a bike ride, cross country skiing or running in the park, Strava is an irreplaceable training tracker and route planner. You can join millions of active users on specific challenges, compete and follow known athletes or discover new trails and routes for your next adventure.

The New York Times 7 Minute Workout

The Scientific 7 Minute Workout

To be more precise: It's The New York Times Scientific 7 Minute Workout and if you've got 7 minutes, do the workout now. These particular exercises require nothing more than your body, a chair, and a wall and 7 minutes of your time. You can also download the app and let it guide you through 12 exercises that you perform intensely for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds rest between each exercise. Before you think it’s too easy to fail, remember: the goal is to keep the intensity of the workout at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10. An excellent option on days when you skip Tobias’ daily LIVE HIT session at 8AM.

Sleep Apps

Sleep Cycle​

When you wake up during the lightest part of your sleep cycle, you are likely to feel more rested throughout your entire day than if you had woken up during the deepest part of your sleep. With the Sleep Cycle app, you set a 30-minute alarm window and the app monitors your movement to determine where you are in your sleep cycle to ensure that you wake up during the lightest part of your sleep so that you feel as rested as possible during your day. Even though not accurate, the app is a great starting point to track what affects your sleep quality (time spent in bed, time spent in deep sleep, the frequency of motion and intensity for each movement, times where the app registered you as fully awake).

F.Lux

AURUM CTO Thomas' favourite app. No one realistically expects you to stop using your computer or mobile when it’s dark outside (at least we don't expect that from Thomas). So the smart response to this unfortunate situation is to use a circadian screen adjustment app that prevents laptop-induced insomnia. F.lux controls your screen and reduces blue light colours after the sun goes down which helps your body know when it’s time to go to bed. Researchers have determined that any bright light at night can disrupt the sleep hormone melatonin, and that blue light is the most harmful. Worse, disruption of melatonin can contribute to obesity and cardiovascular disease as well. By making a small change to reduce the amount of bright white and blue light that goes into your eyes (and onto your skin!) before bed, you can improve your health and overall quality of life.  

Pzizz

If you need to help settle your brain to optimize your sleep, try Pzizz. It brings the human composed, algorithmically remixed sounds to optimize getting you to sleep, keeping you asleep, and waking you up feeling refreshed. You can choose either sleep or power nap, and set the amount of time you want to sleep for. Then just plug your headphones into your phone and start the app, which will play a unique soundtrack of music, vocal cues (inspired by neuro-linguistic programming, which suggests that language patterns can reprogram the brain), and binaural beats, which can actually change your brain waves to help relax you.

Mind Apps

WHM

AURUM CFO Philipp's favourite app. Keep your body in optimal condition and in complete control even in the most extreme conditions such as cold shower in the morning or ice bathing. Practicing the specific breathing exercises of the Wim Hof Method will release your inner fire. These breathing exercises are focused on deep and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations, described by Wim as ‘controlled hyperventilation or power breathing’ and are followed by a retention time, where you hold your breath for a x amount of time. By practicing the breathing exercises, you are releasing more energy, influencing your nervous system and changing various physiological responses. You are basically inducing a short stress response which ultimately will lead to more resilience towards everyday stress, mentally and physiology and feeling more in control.

WakingUp

Daily guided meditation sessions, on-demand mindfulness lessons as well as a practical timer designed neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris will build your understanding and help turn meditation into a new habit. For inquiring and curious minds, learn the related science, philosophy, and ethics in short audio lessons with Sam and through his extended conversations with other influential teachers and scholars. Pleasant experience before drifting away.

Calm

Imagine a mental fitness session with the four-time basketball champion LeBron James, who shares how to manage emotions, set your mind for success and maintain motivation throughout the season (in our case: lockdown). Calm ranked No. 1 app for meditation and sleep in 2017. The app is filled with hundreds of meditation practices, sleep stories (for you and your kids) that are written and recorded by some of the top experts and mind training sessions for better focus.

Headspace

Probably the best (or should I say the “cutest”?) app to start meditating and practising awareness. Choices to manage anxiety and stress, sleep soundly, be more active, or increase focus make using this app very enticing, where you focus on solving one issue by doing something apparently so unrelated. Guided meditations, animations, articles and videos, all in the distinct Headspace style make these 10 minutes so immersive, simple and easy that it really is almost too difficult to skip a session everyday.

Brain FM

AURUM CEO Julian's most used app for deep thinking and creativity. Imagine listening to music designed for the brain (generated by an AI) to improve focus, meditation, relaxation, naps and sleep within time “slots” of 15 or more minutes. That's it.

Peak

Brain training apps are less exciting that the science behind it, and yet they are great for those moments when you need a switch or when waiting in line. Peak is a brain-training app that has 21 adaptive games to help you build your memory, focus, problem solving and other cognitive skills while having fun. The app measures your performance on games and suggests personalized brain workouts based on your goals to increase your skill set. It also keeps a history of your scores so that you can monitor changes in your performance over time. Peak was designed by neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, gaming researchers, and education experts.

Lumosity

Lumosity has adapted cognitive ability tests into more than 40 games to help you train a variety of skills. It has personalized training recommendations, tests to help you measure your performance, and statistics to let you compare your results to those of others. The app was developed by neuroscientists and is based on the principles of neuroplasticity. There have been multiple studies confirming Lumosity’s benefits for people of all ages as well as with various medical issues.

Habit building apps

Jour

Journal for mindfulness. Journaling is like yoga for the mind. It's a healthy, mindful practice, recommended by therapists, psychologists, and leading professionals to improve mood, health, and productivity. Through its guided structure, Jour makes practices used by therapists and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy experts accessible and interactive. Plus, studies have found that journaling can improve physical and mental health and make you 42% more likely to achieve your goals. Start by just answering one question a day.

Elite HRV

Know if you can train hard and handle more stress today or is it better to rest and leave the difficult decisions for tomorrow. Of course, you will need a wearable to calculate your HRV to answer the question if your sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system is active. If your elite HRV score is 3/10, it suggests your body is stressed even though mentally it might not feel like it. How to destress? The app educates what’s happening in your body and so you can track and discover what kicks you out of balance and vice versa. Use your HRV not just for performance, but also to understand why you might have overreacted when your girlfriend asked for the second time if you want the steak medium or well done.

Voilà. These are our top picks in the world of body & mind applications that really make a difference in your daily routine.

We'd also like to bring to your attention a few wearables that bring the self-quantification of health and fitness to the next level:

  • Freestyle libre helps you understand what foods cause insulin spikes and prevent fat burn or cause inflammation.
  • Amazon Halo analyses your voice tone and tracks your activity, sleep, and your body fat (yup, using your phone camera).
  • Muse is AURUM team's favorite meditation device that enables us surfing the alpha brain waves between our workouts and working sessions.
  • Whoop delivers actionable and behavioral recommendations tailored to you so that you sleep, perform and recover better.
  • Oura master your sleep. If sleep is a topic for you (and if you don't mind wearing a ring), that's the best wearable currently available on the market.
  • The upcoming iWatch Series 7, which shall monitor blood glucose using a non-invasive optical sensor.

For more simple yet powerful routines and tools that really make a difference to your wellbeing, check our 6 Minute Guide to Wellbeing.

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