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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Seven Apps and Sites to Encourage Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

It's that time of year when many of us have healthy eating and exercise on our minds. Even if you're a regular exerciser like me, the December can be a tricky time to stick to good eating and exercise habits. The following apps and sites might help you get back on track. And if you or your students are making New Year's resolutions to move more and eat better, these apps and sites can help. 

MoveIt is a free Chrome extension that tries to help you avoid sitting in front of your computer for too long. At intervals of your choosing MoveIt will prompt you to get up and complete a short exercise. You can set the intervals to be as frequent as every five minutes or as infrequent as every hour. You can also disable MoveIt altogether for the times when you absolutely cannot be interrupted.

Sworkit Kids which I featured yesterday provides you with short exercise your students can do in your classroom or at home. Sworkit Kids simply features short video demonstrations of a movement like diagonal hopping accompanied by a countdown timer. There is also a Sworkit app for adults which provides full workouts to follow along with on your phone, tablet, or computer. 

GoNoodle is a popular service that has been around for five or six years. It's changed a little bit over the years but at its core it is still designed to promote physical fitness in a fun environment. GoNoodle features lots of free videos that lead students in short, 2-5 minutes, exercises. These are fun exercises like dancing that can be done in your classroom or at home with parents. Many of the videos are also available on GoNoodle's YouTube channel


One of the simple improvements that I made to my diet a six years ago was not using sugar in my morning coffee (I never used cream). The CDC's Rethink Your Drink helped me understand how many extra calories I was taking in by adding sugar to my coffee. Rethink Your Drink provides a chart of sugar content and calories found in popular beverages. The PDF also contains a chart of suggested alternatives to drinking sugary beverages. In addition to the charts Rethink Your Drink provides suggestions on ways to cut sugar calories safely while not sacrificing nutrients.

On a similar note to Rethink Your Drink, Sugar Stacks is a good website for understanding how much sugar is in the food and beverages that we consume. Sugar Stacks lists popular food and beverage items in ten categories. Every item is pictured with a stack of sugar cubes. Each sugar cube represents four grams of sugar. This is a great way to see just how much sugar you really consume in your favorite snack or beverage.

Space Chef is a free iPad app from the Lawrence Hall of Science. The purpose of the app is to introduce students to healthy foods and recipes that they may not have ever tried or even heard about. Space Chef features a fast-paced game in which students have to quickly grab the ingredients for a recipe. The ingredients scroll past them in three streams or flight paths. Students are shown a recipe at the top of the screen and they must grab the appropriate ingredients as they stream across the screen.

Walking, running, and biking are three simple ways to get regular exercise. I live in an area that doesn't have many sidewalks or even wide shoulders on the road so it can be hard to find safe places for those activities. If you live in a similar area, you might also hear the same complaint from students and parents. To help them find safe routes you could create walking, running, and biking routes in Google Maps. In this short video I demonstrate how to do that.

My Favorite Feature of OneNote's Chrome Extension

OneNote is the Microsoft product that I use more than any other in my daily work and personal life. I have it installed on my Android phone for taking notes and bookmarking things that I find while reading through my favorite blogs on Feedly. I also use the OneNote Chrome extension on my computers to write notes, to annotate PDFs, and to save webpages. Within the context of saving webpages is where my favorite feature of OneNote's Chrome extension is found. 

The OneNote Chrome extension makes it possible to quickly save the content of an article on a webpage without saving all of the sidebar content, advertisements, or headers and footers of the webpage. It simply saves the source link and the content of the main article. I use this feature a lot when saving recipes from cooking websites that seem to be littered with pop-up advertisements. Here's a short video overview of how to use OneNote's Chrome extension to save webpages without saving the sidebar content. 


Applications for Education
Saving just the main article content from a webpage is useful for those who want to print an article to have their students read. It's also useful for those who are sharing OneNote notebooks with students. Save just the article and its source link to so that your students can read it without distractions in a shared OneNote notebook.

Here are a few related OneNote tutorials: