Facebook Twitter

The You Docs: Look on the Web for help getting fit and healthy

SHARE The You Docs: Look on the Web for help getting fit and healthy

The beauty of the Internet is that you never have to walk alone. It can hook you up not only with trackers and tools, but with a network of support buddies to push, prod and cheer you on. The same technologies that let you gawk at videos of dancing cats or reconnect with what's-his-name from second grade can give you a healthier, hotter (hey, go for it!) body. Here are six proven ways to kick off your own e-health revolution.

1. Beep! Take that pill! Up to 45 percent of us don't take prescription drugs the way the doc intended (forget betting on when the economy will turn around; under/overdoing our meds may be the real national pastime). That can put you at risk for nasty drug reactions and wild rides to the emergency room. Instead, download a clever iPhone app called Medsy. It stores schedules for multiple medications and sends you discreet take-me-now reminders with instructions. No, it doesn't need cell-phone coverage to work. Medsy is smarter than that.

2. Stop counting calories in your head. If you're constantly running a mental calorie tab, these apps are for you. They track calories eaten/burned, portion sizes and food choices — and tracking can boost your weight loss by up to 50 percent. That's partly because knowledge is power: It's easier to resist the chocolate-chip-cookie ice-cream sandwich when you know it's packing 800 calories! Make it simple with DailyBurn.com, an online site plus iPhone app that logs calories in (what you're munching while you read this) and calories out (how many you burn forking in another bite). A site called FatSecret.com has downloadable apps that track calories for Droid and BlackBerry users. Another Droid download at CardioTrainer.com tracks your running or walking pace and calories burned; it also saves new outdoor routes so you can find 'em again.

3. Get a new workout without leaving home. Bored with the weightlifting routine you've been doing since 1998? Ready for some new yoga moves, but don't want to trek to a studio? Got 10 minutes before lunch and want to move a little? Turn the Internet into an instant personal trainer. At RealAge.com, try the online video walking program or our YOU Docs 20-Minute Workout. There's also a beginners' yoga sequence there. And smartphone app stores are loaded with exercise routines.

4. Lower your blood pressure and lousy LDL cholesterol. Recording their blood pressure numbers online daily helped 58 percent of people with hypertension keep a lid on it; by comparison, just 38 percent of people who got rechecked monthly by their doc did as well. Online tracking for BP, cholesterol, diabetes, asthma and other conditions lets you spot trends in real time, so you can adjust your diet, exercise or medications, pronto. There are terrific apps, like BP Buddy and AsthmaMD, for iPhones, as well as HandyLogs Heart for BlackBerry users. Check out TheCarrot.com and Ringful.com for online and smartphone programs that monitor everything from blood sugar to lung function. You can even track your emotions (useful if you're grappling with depression or bipolar disorder) with apps like Mood Journal Plus (download it at Blackberry.com).

5. Get sleepy or happy. But not dopey (this isn't about Snow White's favorite dwarves). Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can relieve mild depression or help you beat insomnia, with practical sessions aimed at reversing self-defeating thoughts and actions. The e-bonus? You can get help in your jammies and bunny slippers. Try the well-designed program at CBTforInsomnia.com, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, or the free "mood gym" run by Australia's Centre for Mental Health Research (moodgym.anu.edu.au).

Got a Droid phone? Nod off faster with the Lightning Bug, a white-noise app that plays sounds of rain, waves or even storms, if that's what makes you wind down. Tense? Try Stress Free Now at 360-5.com.

6. Never feel alone. Find groups of sharing, caring people facing the same health issues you are at sites like PatientsLikeMe.com, or online communities at the websites of major health organizations, like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Arthritis Foundation and others. Remember, you have a friend: Computer support groups help people fighting everything from breast cancer to fibromyalgia boost well-being, ease depression, feel empowered — and share a few much-needed laughs for stress relief. And yes, of course there's an app for that: iJoker (or any one of hundreds of laugh-a-lot downloads).

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of "YOU: On a Diet." To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.