The UK has been in lockdown for what seems like an age and the cracks are starting to creep in for many of us (and we’re not talking about the cracks in the walls that you’ve been staring at for the past 4 weeks).
Looking at the same four walls can get a bit tedious after a while so why not try one of these apps, all free on Google Play and on the Apple app store, and make the best of your time in isolation.
To Get You Moving
You can only leave your house once a day, you’re working from home and it’s less than a week until Easter Sunday so eating large quantities of chocolate seems unavoidable. Unfortunately, the calories still count! If you’re starting to notice your jeans getting a little tight and the scales creeping up, give one of the fitness apps a go to help combat that chocolate egg we know you’ve got hidden on the kitchen cupboards:
Nike Training Club (NTC)
With an eye-popping amount of totally free workouts you can do from the comfort of your home, this is easily one of the best fitness apps available right now. By entering in details like weight and goals, the app can even create targeted plans to help you lose extra pounds, become more flexible or build more strength. One of the best features is you can pick workouts based on the equipment you have already at home. Have nothing but a couple of bottles of water? No problem, there are body-weight only exercises galore to help you emerge from lockdown in better shape than ever.
For those who prefer a slower pace while they exercise, Keep Yoga has a great selection of free yoga sequences to help you limber up while building strength. There are plans to help you relieve stress or correct your posture, or you can stick to doing specific sequences (Sun Salutation in the back garden, anyone?). You can even choose sequences to help relieve period pain or help you sleep better.
If you haven’t heard of this app before, you’re in for a treat. While we’re on lockdown, we’re still allowed out once a day for exercise and if you’re going to go out, this is the absolute best way to do it. Part story, part jogging app, it combines the need to get fit with your love of The Walking Dead and every nightmare you ever had about zombies. As you walk or jog, you are cast in the role of ‘Runner 5’, completing a series of virtual missions in which you must run to pick up items that will help save your town from the zombie apocalypse. Real zombies not included.
To Care For Your Body
Getting your body moving is a great start towards coming out of lockdown a happier, healthier version of the person you are, but it takes more than just a few workouts a week. Like with anything in life, you get out what you put in and yes, I’m afraid we’re talking about nutrition. The more time we spend in our homes, the easier it is for bad habits to creep in. So before you decide that 11am is a fine time for a gin and tonic, check out these apps:
Change 4 Life Smart Recipes
We can’t all be Nigella in the kitchen and for those of us who can burn ice cream, this is one of the best apps available. Not only does it have a cornucopia of delicious recipes for every meal going, it actually makes sure they’re packed full of delicious fruit and veg, and calorie-controlled, leaving you with more time to focus on other tasks. Like finishing that series on Netflix. It can even help you plan your weekly shop and budgets each meal at around £5 each.
Working from home can create a false sense of relaxation and with it, you might be feeling the temptation to reach for a drink earlier than you did before. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not against the occasional cocktail, but if you’re finding yourself reaching for a bottle or glass of something stronger than lemonade most nights – or days – this app could be a huge help. By tracking how much you’re drinking and when, it can help you set new sobriety goals, track the calorie content in your drinks, and see how much you could save if you didn’t buy alcohol.
Drinking more water has been linked to better skin, increased brain function, improved cardiovascular health and weight loss. Even better, you can drink it straight out of your taps without it costing any extra! Despite this, dehydration is a common problem and as the weather starts to warm up, prioritising hydration is a good idea. Plant Nanny will help by giving you a tiny, adorable plant seed. Every time you drink, you water the plant and over time it grows. If watching a tiny, cute plant wither and die doesn’t motivate you to down a few gallons, nothing will.
Yummly Recipes & Shopping List
This is another cooking app BUT what makes this one especially great is that before you even get to the recipes, it asks you to confirm whether you have a special diet, food allergies or intolerances, so that it can filter recipes that will suit your needs. If you’re a vegetarian coeliac with diabetes who hates aubergine, this is the app for you!
To Care For Your Mind
It’s not enough to look after your body. Particularly in times of stress and anxiety, it’s important to look after what’s going on above the shoulders as well. Taking some time each day to concentrate on relaxing, turning off social media’s constant chirp, and just taking some time for you will do your mind a great service. So turn off the TV for a while and give one of these a go.
Brain training isn’t something new but CogniFit sets itself apart from the apps that came before. It has medical backing and offers assessments and brain training plans for those suffering from conditions like ADHD or undergoing medical treatments like chemotherapy, which can affect brain function in different ways. The huge variety of training games claim to evaluate and train memory, attention, concentration, executive functions, reasoning, planning, mental agility, coordination and more. Perfect for when you’ve started showing signs of cabin fever!
This deceptively simple app promises to introduce you to the ‘life-changing benefits of meditation’ and it does just that. For those who have never tried meditation, it can help refresh your energy levels during a tough day, calm anxiety, soothe away bad moods and make you more focused. This handy app offers guided meditations to help you fall asleep or just relax, as well as assorted nature sounds and soothing music and even masterclasses, all developed with your wellbeing in mind. It’s popular for a very good reason.
Nothing has more impact on how we function day-to-day than sleep, yet everyone suffers from sleep problems at some point in our lives. Enter Sleep Cycle! Ever wake up from deep sleep and spend the rest of the day in a perpetual state of zombie? This app tracks your sleep cycles based on noise and movement so it will wake you up during a light sleep phase, which can help you feel more alert and well rested. If you struggle to fall asleep, there are sleep stories to help you drift off, and it can even track your snoring, helping you to make sure you’re in good health and not suffering from conditions like sleep apnoea. Best of all, it tracks all of this so you can see how your sleep improves over time AND you can compare it with everyone else in the world using the app!
Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame
Anxiety in children is on the rise and with everyone on lockdown, it’s really no surprise to find so many kids struggling to understand and deal with the big changes happening around them. If your little ones are feeling unsettled, this is the app for you. With the universal power of Sesame Street, it teaches children to express how they’re feeling and then deal with it in a healthy way with actions and/or breathing exercises. The cute graphics and funny images will capture your child’s attention, and as a parent, you can customise it to suit your child’s needs.
To Unwind and Play
After a tough day of working from home or wrestling your child through home schooling, it’s important to make time for something fun that will entertain and relax you. Phone-based games have come a long way since those halcyon days of caterpillar, and with so many different styles of game available, there’s sure to be something you’ll love.
Stranger Things: The Game
That’s right! There is a game to accompany the hit TV series and it’s so Nintendo GameBoy that fans of the show will be hooked in no time. Explore well-known locations from the show, plus a number of new locations, solving puzzles and collecting Eggos and Gnomes as you and the kids try to get to the bottom of what is happening in Hawkins, Indiana. It’s an action-adventure game you won’t want to put down…except to watch the show.
Miss driving your car? If you’re missing the good old days of jumping behind the wheel and cruising around the streets, this app will provide a timely reminder…with a few extra things thrown in. This game from Sega challenges you to earn as much money as possible hurtling your way around the streets (music included!) as you try to beat everyone else’s takings. You can set play-time for between 3 and 10 minutes, giving you just enough time to squeeze in some frantic driving in you work break.
Adventure Escape: Murder Manor
If you’ve ever fancied yourself a detective, Murder Manor is the place to test your mettle at solving a crime. You’re cast in the role of a detective who witnesses a murder at Wickham Manor after their car breaks down. Work your way through all 9 chapters of puzzles, finding clues to help you figure out who the murderer is. Reviews suggest this game isn’t easy, but it also isn’t smash-your-phone difficult, so it should keep you busy for quite a while.
Frisbee Forever 2
If your kids are in need of entertainment as well, this app is fun for the whole family. There are very few people who don’t love flinging a frisbee around, and while we’re not able to do that on parks or beaches right now, you can still do it virtually. A strange combination of frisbee and rollercoaster, this game challenges you to guide your disc through more than 75 different tracks in different worlds, earning bonuses, completing missions and generally having a giggle doing it.