8 apps for losing weight, staying fit

  @Money February 5, 2013: 6:01 PM ET
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MONEY picks eight phone-worthy health apps.

(Money Magazine)

In 2012, mobile health care took off in a big way. An estimated 247 million apps were downloaded -- double the love they received the previous year.

"Smart devices are moving health care from the hospital or doctor's office to the home," says Chris Edwards, assistant dean for information technology at the University of Cincinnati College for Nursing.

MONEY's top picks for apps help you lower health care costs, get fit, lose weight, and more:

BEST APPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Lose It!

Available on: iPhone, Android

Cost: Free

Overweight people rack up hundreds of dollars more a year in health care expenses than those of normal weight. Lose It! helps monitor your food and fitness.

Log your meals using the easy-to-navigate database, and the app will automatically update your target calorie count based on what you've burned that day via exercise.

Related: Cut your health-care costs at any age

Coolest feature: If you're eating on the go, scan the bar code on food packages to record calorie information.

Fooducate

Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android

Cost: Free

All too often the word "healthy" on a food package is merely a marketing gimmick to justify a higher price. Use this app to decode nutrition labels and see how your favorite eats rate against others, based on calories, sugar content, and the percentage of additives and other processed junk inside.

Coolest feature: Along with the rating, Fooducate suggests better options to help you make a smarter selection.

BEST APP FOR FITNESS

RunKeeper

Available on: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry

Cost: Free

Related: How to save on health insurance

Plug in your weight and goal and get a personalized fitness plan. A coach urges you to stick to a pace as you run (or walk or bike); when you finish a workout, you get a complete breakdown of your stats, including calories burned.

How your health care will change in 2013

"It's like a free trainer at the gym," says Suzanne Kantra, editor-in-chief of Techlicious.com.

Coolest feature: RunKeeper synchronizes with your Facebook page so you can engage in a virtual competition with your friends.

BEST APPS FOR SELF-DIAGNOSIS

SpotCheck

Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android

Cost: Free

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., so it's important to check out problematic spots ASAP. Unfortunately the average patient waits 38 days to see a dermatologist.

Related: Check out of the hospital and stay out

With Spot-Check, you snap a photo of your mole and it will be analyzed by a board-certified dermatologist within 24 hours. "Nothing replaces an in-person visit, but you can get real-time peace of mind for free," says New York City dermatologist Bobby Buka, who developed the app.

Coolest feature: Doctors affiliated with SpotCheck see users within two weeks.

PostureScreen Mobile

Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android

Cost: $9.99

Spending big bucks on back pain treatment? Poor posture may be the cause of the strain. The trouble is that posture issues aren't always obvious to the eye.

This app, developed by physical therapy professionals, analyzes your front-and-side photos and points out, say, that one shoulder is higher than the other or that your head juts forward.

Coolest feature: Email your trainer or physical therapist a PDF of the results so she can tailor your workout accordingly.

BEST APP FOR FINDING A DOCTOR

ZocDoc

Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry

Cost: Free

ZocDoc was developed by a weary road warrior who broke an eardrum on a flight and had a hard time finding treatment once he had landed. ZocDoc can instantly find a dentist or doctor in more than 1,500 cities who takes your insurance.

Related: 5 ways to prevent sports injuries

"That's a huge timesaver," says Dr. Marty Makary, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who is not affiliated with the app.

Coolest feature: Use the app to book available appointments.

BEST APPS FOR ORGANIZING

My Medical

Available on: iPad, iPhone

Cost: $3.99

Not keeping track of your medical info can be costly in many ways, from an increased risk of misdiagnosis to fees for missed appointments. My Medical gives you health data for your entire family at a click, from the kids' vaccine records to your latest cholesterol numbers, and stores photos of insurance cards.

Coolest feature: You're pinged with reminders for upcoming appointments.

Good Rx

Available on: iPad, iPhone

Cost: Free

If you're paying full freight for your meds or have co-insurance, the cost of your drugs can vary widely between stores. Enter the specific medication you're looking for (you can search for it by condition), and you'll get a list of pharmacies in your area (as well as online stores) that carry it, along with comparative pricing.

Coolest feature: Automatic notifications about price drops. To top of page



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