If you had to guess, how much time do you think you spend using your smartphone in a day?
I have to admit that I spend a lot of time looking at apps on my phone. I’d probably say that if I added it all up, it would be about 2 hours out of my day. But, it’s not all bad.
I have a lot of appreciation for really good apps. I think I would call myself “techy” and I enjoy using technology to help me organize my life, track my goals, order food on the go, connect with my friends, and provide some entertainment.
There are tons of really helpful apps that can simplify your life and actually help you be more productive, instead of just wasting time browsing Pinterest (although that’s probably my favorite!). So when it was time to upgrade from my iPhone 4, I decided to switch to the Samsung Galaxy S5 to see what it had to offer.
Some of you may be thinking “why would you ever leave iPhone for an Android phone?!” But I was open to trying something new, especially because I heard that the Samsung Galaxy S5 had a built-in heart rate monitor and an awesome fitness app called the S Health. Any cool new gadget that will help me track my fitness goals is worth a try!
I have now had my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone for about 4 months. I feel somewhat experienced with the S Health app and I am going to break it down for you.
The pedometer is probably my favorite part of the whole app, and it’s probably the simplest. It does simply what a pedometer is supposed to do by tracking your steps throughout the day.
In addition to tracking your steps, it calculates distance and calories burned. Once you reach your goal steps for the day (the recommended goal is 10,000 steps) you get a trophy in that category for the day.
It also tracks your daily steps in a log so you can see if you are improving or need to get up and move.
As long as you keep it active, the app with automatically reset the pedometer to 0 at midnight, so that when you get up the next day it starts tracking your steps for the next day. You can stop or pause it of course, but it’s nice to let it do its thing without having to tell it to start.
If you enjoy running, biking, hiking, or walking as your main form of exercise, then the exercise part of the app is very useful. Using a GPS locator, it calculates the distance you’ve traveled and calories burned. This is all clearly visible on the screen and you can even see your movement on a map.
You can set an audio guide to cue you into your progress throughout your activity. It’s also very easy to access your music playlists from this part of the app.
You can also define your exercise goals. You can specify a distance goal, time goal, calorie goal, or a training effect goal (if you connect a heart rate monitor).
If you do other forms of exercise, such as strength training, aerobics, or yoga, the exercise part of this app can still be used but is not as helpful. Since you are not tracking distance, the only measurement it will make with these forms of exercise would be your heart rate/calories burned, but this would mean that you have to wear a compatible heart rate monitor to sync to the app.
Again, there is a log available to track your progress over several days, and you can even take a picture of your workout to attach to the log. Receive a medal for the day once you have reached your calories burned goal.
The heart rate portion of this app is what I thought would set it apart from some of the other fitness apps out there. Because the heart rate monitor is built into the phone, you can record your heart rate without any additional accessories. However, the down side is that you can not record your heart rate over time. It is just a snapshot of your heart rate at that moment.
It was great for me to determine what my resting heart rate was, and I would use it to record my heart rate at the end of a workout, but it was almost impossible to get a good reading DURING my workout unless I wanted to actually stop what I was doing (which defeats the whole purpose).
When recording your heart rate, you place your finger on the sensor on the back of the phone. You must be very still and quiet and it takes at least 30 seconds to record, if you can even get it to record. Once my heart rate got to higher levels, the app would give me an error message telling me it was unable to record. By that point my heart rate was coming down and I couldn’t really even get a good reading. This is the most frustrating part of the app, especially because it was the part I was most excited about.
In the food section, you record your food intake for the day from a comprehensive list. This will calculate your calories for the day. I have to say that the list of foods is pretty extensive, so it’s easy to find your food from the database.
You can set your goal caloric intake based on your weight and weight loss goals and it will automatically calculate how close you are to that goal as you continue to add your food eaten.
Take a picture of your food here to save it to the log, or add a food to your favorites for easy access the next time.
You can also receive a medal for the day if you reach your food goal.
This section is pretty cool. It’s broken down into 5 categories: exercise, food, sleep, stress, and weight. In each category you will be asked a series of questions based on your current lifestyle. You will receive a score in each category based on how you answered each question.
Based on your current lifestyle in each category, your “coach” will make recommendations on things you can do to improve. You can pick one or more of these recommendations to make your goal. If you accept the goal, your coach will then give you tips on how to achieve these goals, or what they call “missions”. Once you pick a “mission”, your coach will ask you to set a time at which you will complete it. Each time you complete a “mission” your score in the category will improve.
Simply record your weight and see a log of your progress over time. If you have the Samsung weighing scale, you can sync the scale with your app and it will automatically be logged instead of manually entering your weight.
I would say that if you love this app and need a new scale, it might be a neat thing to buy. Otherwise, don’t waste your money on the scale because it is very simple to manually log your weight on the app.
This part of the app allows you to sync with other apps, including the Workout Trainer app and the Lark Activity Tracker. I have not explored these additional apps very much, but the Workout Trainer app looks like it is worth a try! It provides video, photo, and audio instructions for specific workouts you can do at home or at the gym.
After about 4 months of using the S Health app, there are a few features of the app that I still use daily. I track my weight using the weight section and I let the pedometer run every day to see how active I am being. While my main form of exercise is not walking or running, the pedometer helps me to see whether I need to get up and get moving throughout the day, in addition to my scheduled workout. It’s a great reminder to not sit still too long.
I don’t use the food section at all, but that is because I went a very long time tracking my food intake via MyFitnessPal so I feel like I have a good grasp on what I should be eating every day without having to track every little thing. However, if you have never kept a food diary or need to track your calories to reach a goal, the food section is great for that!
I am interested in getting a compatible chest-worn heart rate monitor so that I can use the app to track my heart rate during the course of my workouts. While the heart rate monitor is pretty much useless on the phone, the app may be more valuable once I am able to sync a good heart rate monitor to it.
If I was a runner or cyclist, I would probably really enjoy the exercise part of the app, but as of right now I don’t find it very useful.
After these 4 months of using the app, the novelty of it sort of wore off, especially because the heart rate monitor was a disappointment.
But, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great app and can be very helpful at tracking your activity and progress over time. The coach section is great if you need some extra encouragement!
Overall, I give the app two thumbs up. Anything that helps make you more active and gets you to your goals is worth it. If you haven’t found that thing that gets you going, this may be worth a try!