Apps help achieve healthier lifestyle

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iol scitech no 12 smartphone app REUTERS Cellphones hold far more than contact details nowadays. Picture: REUTERS

Toronto - Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and finding it difficult to fit everything into the day? New apps are designed to help people pace themselves better to achieve a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Owaves, for the iPad, is one of several new wellness planning apps that aim to help users reduce stress by visualizing how they will spend their day.

“Day planning is a very important and under-appreciated piece of achieving wellness. It gives you a roadmap,” said Royan Kamyar, founder and chief executive officer of Owaves, based in San Diego, California.

The free app includes a 24-hour clock and lets users drag and drop activities essential to health, such as exercise, sleep, relaxation and nutrition, into the day planner to fit into the normal routine of work and play.

“Being cognizant of how you spend time is a fundamental first step towards improving health and wellness,” said Kamyar.

Designed by game developers, the app also encourages people to incorporate activities like meditation and spending time with friends and family into their day.

“Something as simple as a half hour of meditation a day is good for you to lower stress, improve memory and reduce depression. But most people will say they don't have that time, which is usually a problem of time management,” Kamyar added.

Users can also save routines they plan to repeat regularly.

Other life balance apps include Candooit and Life-Clock, which are both for iPhone and cost 99 cents.

Scott Schieman, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto in Canada who studies work stress and health, believes the apps may help people gain a greater awareness that they need to take time to unwind.

“With our minds being so cluttered with work and other responsibilities, it's really important to plan some kind of disengagement or time away,” he said in an interview, adding that even a five-minute break can be beneficial.

“Planning is key because it's easy to let other things take priority,” he added.

But Schieman is skeptical about whether people will follow through on their plans.

“At a minimum these kinds of apps keep your mind more focused on the way you're actually spending your time, but it might raise awareness of how little control you have of that,” he said. - Reuters

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