Patrice’s Holiday Gift Guide: Health

Patrice’s Holiday Gift Guide: Health
21 Nov 21

As I was on the Mac Voices Holiday Gift Guide recently, I thought it might be worth sharing my picks with the BTN readers as well.
This is the first article in a multi-part series, where I recommend things to buy for the holidays.
All of the picks have been curated by me and I (usually) own & use them myself (or have in the past).

Every guide will have a theme, allowing you to decide whether you're interested in this particular category or not.

First up, today's theme is Health
Health is a very important topic these days. Especially during the ongoing pandemic where you really don't want to get sick and where hospitals are so busy that having to spend any time there just doesn't seem like something you'd like to do if you can prevent it.
And even if we weren't in the middle of this, it's always good to take care of our bodies, right?

So here we go, my health related picks for 2021:

1: A Good Blood Pressure Monitor

THE leading cause of death in most countries is heart disease. And aside from doing all the things our doctors tell us to do (exercise, eat healthy, ...) a good way of keeping track of your heart health is a good blood pressure monitor.

Which one you get doesn't matter as much as making sure it's actually used on a regular basis and doesn't just collect dust somewhere in a box.
That being said, here are a few things to look for in a blood pressure monitor:

  • A comfortable upper arm cuff. Those wrist devices aren't as reliable.
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Health app support (if you're an iOS user), so that data is stored securely but can easily be shared with other services if needed

I bought the Medisana BU 570 connect which sadly isn't available many places as it's a German company. If it's not, there are many good options on the market, e.g. from Withings or iHealth.

2: The Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is a great companion when you want to live an active and healthy life. It comes packed with sensors and other nice health features, that make it the one device I couldn't live without.

Depending on which device you buy (there's literally a watch for almost every budget, and keep an eye out for refurbished or used devices!), you get different sensors built into the tiny device. Even the least expensive Apple Watch sold today, the Series 3 (starting at $199), offers a nice set of features:

  • Heart rate sensor
  • Swim proof
  • Emergency SOS
  • GPS
  • Altimeter

Obviously the Series 7 offers some extra features like a blood oxygen sensor, ECG functionality or fall detection. However, the Series 3 is still a good device at an affordable price. It doesn't always need to be the most expensive device, it's more important that it gets you moving.

For me, the Apple Watch not only provides me glimpses into my calendar and shows me important notifications, it also keeps track of my fitness-related progress during day and helps me "close my rings". It's not uncommon for me to go on a nice long walk at the end of the day or add a HIIT workout on Fitness+ just so that I can close my activity ring (or usually even exceed it. For the record, my daily goal is 700 points currently).

There are many more benefits to the Apple Watch, but pushing you to stay active and healthy is one of the big ones.
And don't forget that Apple Fitness+ recommends (but doesn't require) an Apple Watch.

3: Apple Fitness+

I know this one might be harder to "gift" to someone. But there's always a way, e.g. by using a gift card, or subscribing to it for your entire family.

Apple Fitness+ is easily one of the most underestimated services Apple offers. They have a great selection of workouts and trainers and are continuously expanding the content they provide. It's also available on a variety of devices (iPhone, iPad, AppleTV), so you can just use whatever you have around.

I'm a big fan of Fitness+ and easily do multiple workouts a week in the comfort of my own bedroom (where my AppleTV lives).
My favorite exercises include Dance routines with LaShawn and HIIT with Kim, but I frequently try out other kinds of exercises if I feel like it (e.g. Yoga, Pilates, strength/core).

For me, there are two big advantages to Apple Fitness+:

  1. I can do it at home with the devices/gear I already have
  2. It's super approachable. The coaches encourage you to do it your own way and make sure you know it's OK if you don't always manage to follow along. The focus is on having fun, not being perfect!

4: Heart Reports

Once you have a lot of your health related data in the Health app,
you need a way to share all of that with your healthcare providers. And if you aren't in the lucky position to be able to share it electronically through the Health app in iOS, you need to export it somehow.

That's where Heart Reports comes in.
Contrary to its name, it can actually export a number of reports:

  • Heart rate & heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Blood pressure, including heart rate, body temperature, and 12-hour nutritional intake values (sodium, caffeine, and carbohydrates)
  • Blood sugar with nutritional intake values, heart rate ranges, and classifications based on your particular type of diabetes
  • Activity, including your step count, calories burned, BMI, body weight, lean body mass, and VO2max.
  • Sleep, including heart rate data, asleep, awake, and in-bed times and nutritional values
  • Blood oxygen, combined with your heart rate.

You can export these in PDF and CSV format, or, and here's the awesome part, use them in shortcuts! So it's easy to make really cool automations using your health data.

The app itself is free but you need to pay $2.99 one-time to unlock unlimited exports.

I can tell you from experience, that my doctors were very happy with the reports they got from this app.

5: Medisafe

Some of us, unfortunately, have to take medication on a regular basis. Or we have to keep track of our elderly family members or children taking their meds as prescribed.
That's when medication tracking apps like Medisafe come in really handy.

Medisafe allows you to add any kind of medication you may be taking and then configure reminders for them. It has access to an extensive medication database to make it easy to add the right medication to the app. Alternatively (if you're in the US), it can use the medication info already stored in the Health app.

One of the big benefits of Medisafe is, that it not only has a lot of extra information about the medication you're taking, but also does some interaction checks. Of course, you should always check with your Pharmacist or PCP, but the app will still warn you if it detects known drug interactions.

And did I mention that it's not only for medications but can also keep track of vitamins and other nutritional supplements?

The app also features a bunch of fun "Medtones" for their medication reminders. Who wouldn't want President Obama or Morgan Freeman telling them that it's time to take your meds?

As someone who has ADHD, and would forget to take their meds basically every day, this app has been super helpful.

Medisafe is free, and offers a subscription for the sharing features.

So there we go. The first Gift Guide is in the bags. I hope you have enjoyed it and found some interesting things to spend money on.


Patrice Brendamour


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