5 Best Symptom Checker Apps for Patients in 2021 – Checked by Independent Doctors

5 Best Symptom Checker Apps for Patients in 2021 – Checked by Independent Doctors

Reading Time: 11 minutes

We looked at the 5 best symptom checker apps that scored highest among tests from a team of independent doctors and the features they offer. As a result, we found, all the apps use a Chatbot– AI technology that asks questions about your symptoms and spits out suggestions about possible conditions, treatment, and urgency.

Do you feel something’s not right and don’t have the time to make an appointment with a doctor? What’s more, you may even hesitant about visiting a clinic with the risk of catching something, even worried about COVID-19 symptoms.

Firstly, you’re not alone, and that’s why many in the same boat are turning to symptom checker apps for possible medical conditions, and demand has grown more than ever. As a result, with so many symptom checkers on the market, you may be wondering which apps are trustworthy?

Can you trust an algorithm to give you the correct answer about your health? Also, you may have privacy concerns about who has access to your data.


What To Expect From A Symptom Checker App For Patients


Not all symptom checkers are equal, and few, if any, are approved by the FDA or your local health authority. What’s more, many don’t know that in the US, a medical app for diagnosis or used in conjunction with a medical device must have FDA approval. That’s why symptom assessment apps state they do not provide a diagnosis and commit you to that understanding.

For this reason, an app that answers your symptoms is not a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified medical professional.


Essential Features To Look For In A Symptom Checker App


An independent team of doctors carried out a vignette study on symptom assessment apps and reported their research in the British Medical Journal. For this purpose, the study measured the apps against three criteria– Coverage, Accuracy, and Urgency. For which, we’ll get into each apps’ score later.


Coverage of Medical Conditions


The study tested doctors as a benchmark, accounting for all the possible medical conditions, for symptoms, with a score of 100%. Researchers also tested apps to see if they listed all the medical conditions the doctors diagnosed. The top app scored 99.0% for coverage. The app with the lowest range scored 51.5%.


Accuracy of Medical Conditions

Beyond listing all the possible medical conditions, researchers also tested doctors for accuracy, and they scored 82.1%.
The highest accuracy score for apps was 70.5%. The lowest score was 23.5%, showing a vast difference among the apps. Furthermore, there’s no substitute for a doctor.


The urgency of Medical Conditions

The third criterion tested the urgency in seeking medical advice. Doctors scored 97.0%. In contrast, the top app scored the same, and the lowest app scored 80.0%, with one app that didn’t address urgency at all.


Additional Symptom Assessment App Services and Features


All of the symptom checker apps ask your age and gender. Some ask about your lifestyle and general health– whether you smoke, suffer from diabetes, or have high blood pressure.


Some apps only check symptoms, offer possible medical conditions and suggestions for treatment. By comparison, other apps focus heavily on providing medical information, news, tips, and even joining a community of patients with similar conditions. However, certain apps will offer to put you in contact with an online doctor for a fee or subscription.


For a free app with only a symptom checking service, you may want to consider how they make their money, as the app likely sells your data to third parties.


Apps that offer to put you in contact with a doctor are more transparent about their services and furthermore, stress that your information will not be sold to third parties, used only for improving the service.


The 5 Best Symptom Checker Apps For Patients


Below are the five best symptom checker apps sorted by rating for medical criteria using AI, not by available features. With this in mind, If you’re looking for an online doctor, note the apps that provide that service.

Symptom Checker Apps in order of AI Medical Rating

AI Rank Provider Features User Rating Test Score Link
1 Ada Health Symptom Checker 4.7 88.3% More
2 Buoy Health Symptom Checker & Referral 4.5 70.5% More
3 Mediktor Health Symptom Checker & Tele-med 3.7 67.9% More
4 WebMD Health Symptom Checker & Advice 4.4 64.3% More
5 K Health Symptom Checker & Tele-med 4.0 63.9% More

Let’s dive into each app and look at their test scores, how they work, and their pros and cons.

1. Ada – Symptom Cheker App

Ada symptom checker app

Firstly, Ada that’s taken the market by storm. Developed in Germany, the medical symptom assessment app has over 10 million subscribers and a 4.7 user rating. What’s more, the app is available in 7 languages running on iOS and Android.

Secondly, with the help of 50 in-house medical experts and AI software engineers, the symptom assessment app scores top marks for its medical coverage and accuracy among health professionals. Accordingly, Ada prides itself on an updated comprehensive medical library available on the app.

The app asks for a series of GDPR data consents. However, be in no doubt, Ada will use your data at their discretion.

The chatbot systematically asks questions about your symptoms, starting with the basics– age, gender, and birth date. It also asks underlying health-related questions– ‘Are you a smoker?’, ‘Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure?’, and ‘Do you have diabetes?

You can answer Yes, No, or I’m not sure. The questions are thorough, covering multiple symptoms. Consequently, with relative speed, the result is three possible causes, and red highlights if you need to seek medical advice.

The interface is clean, professional, simple to follow, and easy to understand. What’s more, Ada is thorough, with detailed explanations about each possible cause.

How Ada Works

 

  1. Download the app to your phone
  2. Register your email
  3. Give GDPR consent
  4. Provide optional data consent
  5. The app asks base-line demographic & health questions
  6. Enter your symptoms
  7. Answer the chatbot questions
  8. Receive a detailed result with three possible causes

 

 

Test Scores & Notable things about Ada

Out of all the apps covered by the UK’s British Medical Journal, Ada placed first in its coverage of medical conditions, scoring 99.0%. Ada also scored highest on symptom accuracy with 70.5%, compared to 82.0% achieved by real-life doctors.

Ada manages your data under the European GDPR data protection laws. However, you should consider where Ada is passing your data.

As a free service, Ada must be making money somehow. Selling data is a lucrative business.  

Overall, Ada shows professionalism and reliability, offering the highest score for symptom assessment but cannot replace consultation with a health professional.

ADA Pros & Cons

Pros

  • User friendly and easy to use
  • Operates internationally
  • Comprehensive updated medical library
  • A systematic approach to assessment
  • Top score in symptom assessment
  • Subscription Free

Cons

  • Questionable use of your data

See if Ada is right for you  Go To Ada


Buoy Health

2. Buoy Health – Symptom Checker App & Referral

Buoy symptom checker app

Wanting to create a bridge between patients and doctors, Andrew Le, from Harvard Medical School, founded Buoy health with the help of young software engineers. Consequently, they created a medical symptom assessment service, which is available via the website and for app download from the US iOS store.

The friendly chatbot asks symptom questions using AI algorithms connected to a medical database. As a result, the app offers three possible causes for your medical condition, treatment recommendations, and which options make the most financial sense.

Most apps work with a decision tree to proceed towards possible causes of your symptoms. However, Buoy uses statistics together with the patient’s unique circumstances to prioritize medical conditions.

The app searches its medical database, adapting its forecast, unique for each patient replying to each successive question. Accordingly, the system learns as it goes along.

The app’s interface is clean, simple, user-friendly, and easy to understand.

How Buoy Health Works

  1. Go to the Buoy website 
  2. Receive three possible causes
  3. Buoy suggests treatment options relative to your medical coverage
  4. Allow Buoy to check back on your progress
  5. Receive access to the buoy community

Test Scores & Notable things about Buoy

As a relatively new system, Buoy is learning, and for this reason, it placed second in the test with 88.5% for coverage of possible medical conditions, 43.0% for accuracy, and 80.0% for urgency.

However, you should consider your privacy rights. By signing up to Buoy, it appears you give away all your rights of data to third-party health insurers and providers. You may want to consider that before engagement. 

Overall, Buoy appears professional, easy to use, with relatively good coverage of possible medical conditions, but you should use the service in consultation with a health professional.

Buoy Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Clean interface and simple to use
  • Intelligent symptom assessment
  • Broad Symptom Coverage
  • Recommendations for s treatment & referrals
  • Checks insurance coverage for treatment (US)
  • Dedicated COVID-19 screener (for business)
  • Subscription Free

Cons

  • Limited accuracy
  • Questionable Information Privacy

See if Buoy is right for you Go To Buoy Health


Mediktor Health

3. Mediktor – Syptom Checker App & Tele-med

Mediktor Sympom Checker App

Mediktor’s homepage opening gambit is ‘the most accurate AI-based medical assistant for triage, prediagnosis and decision-making support.’

Considering it scored third overall on a test by independent doctors for symptom assessment apps, that’s quite a statement. Mediktor continues with ‘The only app that is clinically validated.’

However, the question is, beyond the accuracy of those statements, is Mediktor an app you can rely on for answers to your symptoms?

In support of their claims, Mediktor operates in 180 countries and has a heavy focus on COVID-19 assessment, with the service available on the website and mobile apps.

Mediktor offers consultation with an online doctor. It also provides a Chatbot symptom assessment service that does an excellent job of using checkbox questions quickly. In fact, it even adds friendly emojis to describe your level of pain.

Remarkably, Mediktor is the only app to ask if you are male, female, or non-binary. No offense if you claim the latter. However, the question begs, what happens in gender-related medical conditions, such as pregnancy, periods, Turner syndrome, Rett syndrome, or ovarian and cervical cancers?

Mediktor takes a more hands-on approach and asks if you can take your blood pressure. What’s more, if you can’t, it asks about your location for recommendations.

Further, the app is thorough in symptom analysis, with detailed specifics on pain location with multiple-choice diagrams.

The results offer three suggestions, along with urgency. Also, a standout feature is putting you in direct contact with online medical professionals for a small fee. 

How Mediktor Works

  1. Download the app and register
  2. Alternatively, use the website without registration
  3. Give GDPR consent for your data
  4. The app asks base-line demographic questions
  5. Follow a series of comprehensive symptom questions
  6. Get results with three possible causes

Test Scores & Notable things about Mediktor

Mediktor placed third on app tests with 80.5% on condition coverage, 36.0% on symptom accuracy, and 87.3% for the treatment’s urgency.

Mediktor abides by GDPR data protection rules, giving you the right to access the information they store. But it is uncertain how they use your data. For instance, it collects data related to the spread of COVID-19. However, the business model earns revenue from consultations with doctors.

For this reason, any deficiencies in chatbot coverage and accuracies Mediktor mitigates by offering consultation with a validated doctor.

Mediktor Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Consultation service with online doctors
  • Clinical validation
  • A detailed approach to symptom assessment
  • Visual illustrations
  • Scores well in coverage and urgency
  • Free chatbot symptom assessment
  • COVID-19 maps

Cons

  • Scored lower on symptom accuracy
  • Questionable use of your private information

See if Mediktor is right for you Go To Mediktor


WebMD Health

4. WebMD Symptom Checker App & Advice

WebMD symptom checker app

WebMD is probably one of the most popular and trusted medical advisory sites, with medical news and a resource-rich online platform, especially if you want information about COVID-19.

The app is available for download on iOS and Android and reflects the website’s model, including a symptom checker.

You don’t have to register to check your symptoms, and WebMD scores a 4.4 app user rating, better than other apps, but not the highest.

Besides a symptom checker, WebMD also offers health tools– a BMI calculator, Calorie Counters, a low-cost drug finder, ovulation, and due date calculators. Furthermore, WebMD has other apps for specific groups and medical issues.

The app asks your age and gender and immediately about your symptoms. To illustrate this, the app disisplays an interactive anatomy diagram (non-binary) to click your condition’s location and symptom lookup tables.

Some of the terminologies may require going to medical school– do you know what subacromial bursal tenderness is? But there are plenty of more common symptom descriptions, such as a ‘lump on the shoulder.’

The interface is excellent. What’s more, you can add as many symptoms as desired to a list, and edit, if you change your mind. The app will update the result’s strength as you add more symptoms.

WebMD is well-thought-out, taking a different approach, displaying the stage you’re at, and ending with your condition details and suggestions for treatment, for instance.

In contrast, the app asks your opinion about which condition you think is likely. It will also provide Risk Factors and suggestions for treatment, advising consultation with a doctor, if need be. 

How WebMD Works

  1. Access the app on the website
  2. Alternatively, download the mobile app
  3. Answer basic gender-age questions
  4. Add your symptoms to a list
  5. Choose from a list of medical conditions
  6. Get suggestions for treatment and consultation

Test Scores & Notable things about WebMD

Tests revealed WebMD scored 93.0% in possible medical conditions, ranking second-highest, but only 35.5% on symptom accuracy. The test could not examine urgency, as WebMD’s orientation is information resources.

As a US company, GDPR data protection rules don’t apply. However, the company is transparent about the information you submit to their services.

The service encourages consultation with medical professionals. Furthermore, the company has won several awards for medical journalism, connecting people with community programs, and providing reliable general health advice.

WebMD Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Excellent user interface
  • Interactive symptom assessment
  • Easy-to-use visual aids
  • Solid coverage of medical conditions
  • Comprehensive medical news and information
  • Abundant information about COVID-19
  • Free service without registration

Cons

  • Scored lower on chatbot symptom accuracy


K Health

5. K Health – Symptom Checker App & Tele-Med

K-Health symptom checker app

Claiming ‘The #1 most downloaded medical app in the US.’ Let’s take the K Health symptom assessment app for a spin.

First off, the business model is different from other symptom checker apps, focusing on Tele-Med services. The company has 100+ online doctors ready to consult.

Secondly, for a relatively small fee, you can opt for a one-time ‘urgent visit.’ Alternatively, you can subscribe for an even lower-cost monthly fee; both require registration.

The service also includes a symptom checker app free and available for download on iOS and Android. The app’s current user rating is 4.0.

Once downloaded, asking the basics, name, gender, and age, the app lists your answers as you engage with ‘K,’ a chatbot. As a first response, K will boast of ‘anonymizing several million people with your age and sex and will be comparing your symptoms to theirs.’ For laypeople, that sounds painful, and one hopes they’ll be gentle.

Right off the bat, K asks for your email address, explaining you can use it to log in and review your medical history.

Once you’re in, the app soon offers interactive diagrams so you can point to where it hurts, with checkbox lists to describe your symptom and degree of pain.

The app also gives several possible conditions with their probability percentage and urgency of treatment. It also indicates how long each condition takes to treat, from several days to health issues that affect a lifetime.

How K Health Works

  1. Use the website to register
  2. Alternatively, download the mobile symptom checker
  3. Choose chat with a doctor or use the symptom checker
  4. Answer basic gender-age questions
  5. Add your email address
  6. Add your symptoms to a list
  7. Get suggestions for treatment and consultation

Test Scores & Notable things about K Health

On the app assessment test, K Health scored 74.5% for medical condition coverage, 36.0% on symptom accuracy, and 81.3% on treatment urgency, in comparison to the four other apps, of which it came last

K Health abides by GDPR data protection rules. The privacy policy is adapted to where you live, as local regulations differ. Accordingly, K Health is adamant about only using your data to improve their services, stating ‘we will not sell your personal information to anyone.’ That’s refreshing to learn.

Aware of chatbot limitations in giving relevant answers to symptoms, K Health’s priority is Tele-Med with medical professionals. Hence, their symptom assessment app is a supportive tool.

K Health Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Tele-Med with a doctor online
  • Low-cost consultation subscriptions
  • Free, user-friendly symptom assessment app
  • Includes visual aids
  • Good coverage of medical conditions
  • High urgency score for seeing a medical professional
  • Priority on patient data privacy
  • Free app subscription

Cons

  • Scored lower on chatbot symptom accuracy

See if K Health is right for you Go To K Health

In conclusion, whichever app you choose to check your symptoms, make sure you consult with a doctor for professional advice and consider how the app uses your data when giving away your private information to a machine.

Tell us about your experience and which app suits your needs?

The Reality of Disparity, Dirk, Homeless in Venice Beach, California

The Reality of Disparity, Dirk, Homeless in Venice Beach, California

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Reporting on California’s homeless, Invisible People share tent-dwellers’ stories on the new Skid Row, the outcome of years of disparity that’s only gotten worse since COVID19 gripped the economy. What can be done about it?

The story of Dirk

Dirk, 64 years old, originally from Idaho, has a tent in Venice Beach, California. Working as an independent contractor in Montana for 14 years, Dirk moved to California in January, at the start of the pandemic. It’s the first time he’s been homeless, his entire life, moving to get away from the cold winters.

“I decided I’d like to see a better climate because I’m tired. I’ve been in construction all my life. I’m tired. I’m tired of working. It’s time for me to retire.”

Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.

Dirk paid social security throughout his life, figuring it would provide for his security, filing two years ago only to learn he didn’t have enough credits. A self-employed carpenter, he made his final payment to social security on Memorial day and hopes now he has enough credits to receive a pension.

Living a stone’s throw from the beach since January, Dirk has stayed put since the pandemic started. Using a public restroom and a cold shower, he says, helps him cool off during summer. One wonders how he’ll react come winter.

Forever an optimist

Remarkably, Dirk remains an optimist, because regardless of whether one shares his religious belief, it’s his personal faith and recognition of humanity’s oneness that gives him hope.

Grateful for the food gifts passersby give him, Dirk feels that locals actually care. Beat cops allow him to remain there, as long as he’s on the sidewalk, ten feet away from the beach, and keeps the place clean.

Local government has allowed for the encampment during the pandemic, but by law, it’s a crime to live in a tent on the street. The problem is, that tent dwellers have adopted a mindset of bohemian freedom. Living on the street also saves paying municipal taxes and rent— something they’ll need to contend with when the pandemic is over.

Dirk has got to the point, that even if offered housing, he wants to remain in a tent and preferably on the beach, where the sand is softer on his bones. He’s aware that his presence disturbs local tax-paying residents.

It would be reasonable to look at earning figures to understand the root cause of homelessness. The US unemployment stats in 2020 read like a heart-attack in a downward trend that’s been happening since 2008. COVID has spiked the numbers like Everest, a cruel assault on the global jobs market.

With U.S. unemployment down to 6.9% from 14.7% in April, economic recovery signs are evident. The government has yet to distribute Pfizer’s vaccine, and by the time it takes to kick in, the damage may be irreparable.

Yet there’s optimism that 2021 will surpass this year’s economic debacle and set the US on the road to long-term recovery. A lot depends on the incoming administration’s economic policies, bipartisanship, and whether politicians can see the bigger picture.

The increase in vulnerable aging homeless

For those that can financially ride out this period, unemployment is a trend that can be reversed with relative efficiency, as witnessed with the turnaround in employment numbers in the last quarter. 

It’s the individuals and families that can’t survive who face devastation as wrecked livelihoods have driven thousands to the streets, a daunting reality from which to recover. 

The latest research has estimated that close to 40 million people in the US are at risk of losing their homes in the next several months without immediate federal aid. 

Reports since 2016 estimate that municipalities need $11.5 billion to accommodate 400,000 shelter beds. An aging population over 65 is more vulnerable to unemployment and becoming homeless. Furthermore, this group has a greater risk of COVID exposure than any other group in the US.  

In Los Angeles, research shows that the 65+ population will grow by over 50% percent in the next five years.

“On any given night, New York City and Los Angeles County, two areas heavily impacted by COVID-19, are estimated to have 70,000 and 58,000 homeless individuals, respectively.”

Endlesshomelessness.org

Estimates show that over half a million people in the United States live in a homeless shelter or reside in a place unfit for habitation, a number that’s accelerated exponentially as a result of the pandemic. It’s only going to get worse.

What can we do to help?

How we respond or don’t respond to this rising crisis reflects upon our society and each one of us. 

Several public figures have touted their escape from the West Coast’s reality— one excuse is the continuous lockdowns, but the main reason is the growing number of homeless camped outside their front door and neighborhood. The flight from the chaos highlights the urgent need for a call to action.

Governers in California and New York have allowed this prolonged tragedy to grow out of all proportion. There are programs to get homeless seniors into hotel rooms, with assigned case managers. Apparently, it’s not enough to cope with the crisis, as Dirk is still out on the street.

The need for better reporting

The elephant the media is ignoring is the upward spiral of the homeless that’s been happening long before 2020. The root cause is not unemployment. Setting aside this year’s gargantuan anomaly, unemployment has been on a downward trend for over a decade.

The primary problem lies in the level of earnings, and where high-skilled manufacturing is happening globally. In the US there’s been a trend towards lower-skilled lower-paying jobs. People may have jobs but can’t afford the high cost of housing and local taxes, stats not reflected in the unemployment numbers.

The move to online business, and technological developments, expose an apparent lack of workforce skills, having a dire effect on the economy. Manufacturing has been transferred to the Far East, primarily China. Just think about where your smartphone is made. What’s left for many in the US are lower-skilled jobs with an income that doesn’t match the cost of living or housing. Consequential depression, drug and alcohol abuse compound the issues.

A higher minimum wage is a stop-gap measure that won’t solve the problem in the long-run, and will only make it worse, forcing highly leveraged businesses to close. The real solution is the return of organic high-skilled employment with higher earnings.

Game-changing investment in jobs and retraining

Whichever administration is in charge in 2021, the US needs to continue developing opportunity zones in impoverished areas that encourage business growth through financial support and tax incentives. In these areas, cities must keep crime at bay, and certainly not defund the police, but rather invest more in training, and improving ways to work with communities. Ask any local resident, and they’ll tell you the same.

Most of all, the country needs a game-changing scheme addressing all ages to retrain the workforce with relevant skills. Such an initiative will take time and requires a minimum income for trainees. Accordingly, work retraining programs can obligate work contracts for guaranteed jobs, in the opportunity zones.

Another major issue is the need for an overhaul of what universities are charging for higher-education. It certainly doesn’t mean giving free education, which leads to abuse and a lack of accountability. Firstly, why should taxpayers be forced to pay for your choice in education?

Secondly, no one ever appreciates anything given away free. However, it does mean addressing the gross inefficiencies in the way universities are managed. The cost of education in the UK and Europe is a lot closer to a more sane approach to higher-education, where fees are more affordable, and repayment linked to later earnings.

In the UK, for example, there is a standard rate for undergraduate studies charged by all universities, however, the higher-ranking universities demand higher entrance requirements and are graded accordingly. Research grants are provided to universities that perform better and peer-reviewed.

A bipartisan approach to solving homelessness

The growing disparity in the US is evident. It’s notable that those with a steady guaranteed income, such as politicians, local government, scientists, and those working from home or in ‘essential services,’ are so easy to insist upon or accept further lockdowns.

When your income is secure and matches your cost of living, it’s easy to ignore the economic ramifications of lockdowns and the cost of living for low-paid tenuous jobs or self-employed, small businesses. If you’re looking to retrain the workforce, not much is going to happen during a lockdown. 

COVID for the vulnerable is a frightening prospect, and the homeless are most vulnerable. Just as significant are lockdowns that have a more stark and long term economic consequence. Not only should states open the economy for business with precautionary measures, but municipalities need to take steps to invest much more to curb the homelessness wave. 

It’s frightening how ‘The House’ could be so callous, playing partisan politics with the coronavirus relief bill, the price of which being the lives of the most vulnerable.

Incentivized retraining schemes will not answer the needs of an aging homeless population in the short-term. That requires permanent sheltered housing on a mass scale. At the very least, we can contribute to the organizations that are aiding and bringing notice to this urgent cause. 

Little has been achieved for the homeless by local government in major cities. We can be grateful for the nonprofits such as Shelter Partnership that carryout inspiring work to help the homeless on a shoe-string budget. 

For a comprehensive list of homelessness organizations

Shelter Partnership Helping the Homeless

Listen to Dirk

“We have a meeting of two diseases, the Coronavirus and the ‘Us and Them’ disease.”

Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.

Dirk’s wish is that we recognize each other as one and the same.

Homelessness is something many wish to ignore, until you can’t.

The truth is, Dirk’s right, there is no us and them. Our biggest failure is to recognize the inexpressible value of human life. We have the resources and knowledge. We just need the sense and willingness to apply them.

Witnessing fellow human beings living by the wayside is a justification for insomnia. It is astonishing that in this day with mankind’s’ advances in technology and abundant resources, that growing numbers of people and families are living in a tent or on the street.

How sports transforms the brain and improves mental health

How sports transforms the brain and improves mental health

Reading Time: 10 minutes

With all our advanced communication we are still so disconnected

Online trolling has replaced entertainment. A culture characterized by polarizing reductive opinions has allowed people to treat one-another with merciless disdain.

The fast-paced continuous news feeds of war, climate change, flooding, political conflict, crime, and now worldwide pandemics only adds to the stress people face every day. We now live in an information-driven world that is obsessed with the next story— a virtual reality distracted from the needs of our physicality, unaware of what’s happening to our mental health.

As a result, mental health disorders are a rising problem worldwide. The recommendation of medication for stress, anxiety, and depression is commonplace. Doctors haste in their treatment, recommending medication as a panacea for mental illness. Pressure from drug companies, and long waiting lists, find doctors expediently writing prescriptions.

Overwhelming scientific evidence about the mental health effects of frequent exercise

If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, or diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, you may want to reconsider your lifestyle. Are you getting enough exercise or participating in sport? Your cure to anxiety and depression may be as simple as that.

Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that frequent exercise increases the number of brain cells. Intense cardio activity changes the structure of the brain, improving attention, focus, memory, and mood.

The Rise of Mental-health Disorders

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health disorders continue to rise globally. The vast majority of developed countries have issues with mental disorders and substance abuse in more than 10% of the population.

Many people find it hard to admit they have issues related to mental health. The word mental is an intangible condition with a stigma. Problems of the mind and behavior are difficult to grasp and measure, with any degree of accuracy. The cure is not like saying you need to lose a few pounds, which may also be the case.

Some people are self-aware and conscious of having extreme thoughts and emotions. Many are less aware of how they perceive the world and are only mindful of their behavior when others complain, or it lands them in trouble.

 Mental health symptoms can appear in many ways—as severe introversion, explosive temper, impatience, paranoia, compulsive, or impulsive behavior. Medical experts diagnose several types of mental health disturbances—anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychoses, dementia, and developmental disorders, including autism. 

There are effective strategies for preventing mental disorders. Health care authorities and social services provide treatment and social support but have limited resources. Extreme cases need medication and clinical help, and acute cases such as dementia, still have no effective cures.

Understanding different types of mental health disorders

Common types of disorders are Anxiety and Depression. Sufferers can manage their condition with a change in lifestyle, family support, and, if necessary, medication. Severe cases of bipolar disorder, manifest itself with manic and depressive episodes—separated by periods of relative calm. Symptoms express periods of elevated moods, irritability, over-activity, rapid speech, and depressive episodes. Treatment requires medication to stabilize mood and psychological support.

Schizophrenia and other psychoses are severe mental disorders. People diagnosed with schizophrenia can experience distorted thinking and extreme perceptions of their circumstances. Sufferers have wild emotional states, changes in speech, a sense of self, and behavior. Symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, and extreme paranoia.

Treatment of schizophrenia requires consultation with specialists. Patients often need medication, psychosocial support, assisted living, and supported employment.

Dementia is a chronic progressive disease. There is a deterioration in cognitive function, affected by aging. People with dementia experience impaired memory and have trouble with thinking. They may have problems with orientation, comprehension, and calculation. Additional symptoms may include reduced learning capacity, language impediments, and judgment.

People with dementia may experience deterioration in emotional control and social behavior. Alzheimer’s disease or stroke can cause the onset of dementia. Effective treatments are still in various stages of clinical trials.

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression or a more extreme mental health disorder, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of millions of people around the globe with similar conditions.

Improve Mental Health With A Change In Lifestyle

Anxiety is the most common mental health problem, for 284 million people worldwide. People with anxiety experience apprehension, panic, and worries about the future. There is a feeling of edginess or difficulty concentrating.

Other symptoms are restless fidgeting, tension headaches, trembling, and the inability to relax. Some experience physical symptoms, including lightheadedness, dizziness, sweating, and rapid breathing. Maybe even a heightened heart rate, palpitations, discomfort in the ribs, and a dry mouth.

Depression affects 264 million globally, with women being more affected than men. People suffering from major depression may experience prolonged sadness and a loss of interest in everyday pleasures. Depression causes feelings of guilt or low self-worth. If you are suffering from depression, you may experience insomnia, a lack of appetite, a constant sense of tiredness, and prolonged poor concentration. It can also result in physical pain, such as backache, with no clear evidence of illness.

For those with clinical depression, it’s like a black curtain has come down over their reality, which can go on for many years. Life seems to have no purpose and, in extreme cases, leads to thoughts of suicide. Depression often results in the need to sleep during the day with no desire to be productive. It’s a terrible feeling. Everything seems pointless. If you allow it, depression can rule your entire life.

Treatment of mild cases of depression includes cognitive behavior therapy or psychotherapy. Adult sufferers with moderate and severe depression often end up on antidepressants. Managing depression requires examining stress at home and at work.

Other issues may be lack of employment, a personal sense of purpose, or financial problems. There may be physical or mental abuse. It’s vital to receive support from family and friends and making an effort to be active. Social engagement is challenging, as many people would prefer to be left alone.

Often ignored by sufferers of anxiety and depression is the effectiveness of being active, doing exercise, and sport. People turn to medication for a quick fix, but fail to examine their lifestyle.

It’s also common to rely on distractions to alleviate depression without realizing it. Stimulants such as TV, or reading countless fictional books, are temporary fixes. The moment the activity is over, you’re often back to square one, facing reality, once again.

If you turn to alcohol or drugs, there is a short-lived high that doesn’t solve the problem, and in fact, it only makes things worse. Alcohol and drugs impair physical health and also clouds your thinking. You feel much worse in the long run. You get used to your physical and mental and state and can’t even remember what it’s like to feel normal.

If you are suffering from depression, you need to take responsibility and do something to change your way of life. It means being active, in the literal sense. You need to share your problem with others, examining your life, and sometimes facing hard decisions.

  • Have you spoken to anyone about how you’re feeling?
  • How do you spend your time?
  • Which activities are you doing?
  • Are you overthinking?
  • Are you focused on yourself or others?
  • Are you taking the time to regenerate your energy, or are you always working?
  • Is your lifestyle balanced?

Exercise and Sport Aids Mental Health

The Mental Health Foundation has reported on the findings of research on the effect of exercise on mental health. The report states that frequent exercise and sport are an essential aid to treatment.

The research covered the treatment of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and dementia, examining the intensity and duration of the exercise performed, as well as the scope of activities. The tests examined different types of sports and consistent participation in exercise over a period.

The results showed that participating in sports changes your brain, and develops the mind, by simulating everyday life. Sport trains the mind and the body and forces you to coordinate with the world around you to achieve your goals. Sports participation requires skill, discipline, courage, and patience—many of the characteristics that help you deal with the difficulties of everyday life.

The Science Behind Exercise and its Effect on the Brain

Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neuroscience, has researched how exercise has a brain-changing effect. Intense cardio training prevents depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Physical activity, simply moving your body, has an immediate and long-lasting benefit for your brain. Benefits that can last the rest of your life. Exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today.”

Wendy Suzuki

The brain is the most complex structure known to humankind.

The prefrontal cortex is critical to decision making, focus, attention, and personality. The second area of importance is located in the temporal lobe on the right and left side of the brain. The Hippocampus is critical in forming long-term memory, storing facts, and events.

Wendy became renowned for her research that experimented with individuals cells located in the Hippocampus. Her work examined how brain cells recorded brief events to form new memories.

Her research inadvertently helped her discovered the brain-changing effects of exercise.

The irony is that Wendy was so immersed in her work; she became disassociated from her friends and social life. Her singular focus on work made her miserable. After deciding to do something about it, she went on a river-rafting trip and understood how out of shape she was.

In a remarkable turnaround, Wendy began to hit the gym with the same intensity she applied to her work. After each workout in the gym, Wendy experienced a great mood and energy boost.

After a year and a half of her exercise program and losing twenty-five pounds, Wendy reached an epiphany. She realized that her research and work was going much better because she was able to hold her focus and attention for longer. Her memory had improved. Wendy realized that the prolonged period of exercise had changed her brain. She had inadvertently experimented on herself.

Being a curious neuroscientist, Wendy researched further into the effects of exercise on the brain. She discovered that intense physical activity improves attention, focus, memory, and mood. As a result of this discovery, Wendy shifted her research focus to understanding how exercise affected the brain.

The results of her new research concluded that exercise is the most transformative way to change the brain.

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1. A single workout increases levels of neurotransmitters, with immediate effect. Exercise increases dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline, neurotransmitters, that increase mood.
2. A single workout can help you shift and focus your attention for at least two hours after the workout.
3. Exercise improves your reaction time. You respond more quickly, both mentally and physically.

_______________________________________

Your regime must increase your cardiorespiratory function to achieve a long-lasting positive effect of exercise for your brain. An intense exercise regime changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology, and function.

Exercise produces brand new brain cells in the Hippocampus, increasing its volume and long-term memory. The most transformative action is the protective effect on the brain. As you repeat workouts, raising your heart rate, the Prefrontal cortex, and Hippocampus gain mass. These two regions of the brain are most susceptible to disease and decline, with age. By strengthening these areas of the brain, you reduce these degenerative effects.

Exercise won’t cure dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but long-term activity will deter and prolong these diseases.

What’s the least amount of exercise you need to do to achieve the necessary cell growth in the brain?

The answer is 3-4 exercise sessions a week of 30 min. The critical point is to get the heart rate up with an aerobic workout, which can be achieved in several ways, such as vigorous walking, or using the stairs.

The Effect of Individual, Team and Organized sport

The studies cited by the Mental Health Foundation also examined the state of regression in mental health disorders, for participants from different kinds of sports activities. The studies examined participants in different conditions:

  • Team sport
  • Individual sport
  • Non-competitive Physical Activity
  • Competitive Organized Physical Activity
  • Indoor Activities
  • Outdoor Activities

Outdoor sports had more positive effects on mental well-being than in-door activities and left participants with greater feelings of revitalization. Positive engagement in outdoor activity, decreases tension, confusion, anger, and depression, with increased energy. Working out in a natural environment has a 6% lower risk of poor mental health.

Yet, outdoor activities are subject to seasonality and changes in weather conditions. Extreme weather can be a barrier to participation. Indoor activities have the advantage of being engaged in physical activity year-round.

Team sports athletes had the lowest depression and anxiety scores. The type of competition, the environment, and team involvement can make a significant difference with a very positive effect on mental health. Team athletes in organized events show better mental health outcomes than individual athletes

These studies concluded essential targets for health benefits.

Either physical activity of 150 min a week of moderate-intensity or 75 min a week of vigorous exercise.

Even low doses of physical activity are associated with lower depression levels.

How Different sports affect the mental state

Examples of different sports and how they affect the mental state

Running- Whether on a track, in a park, or out in the wild, running improves your mindset. The runner’s high comes with the release of endorphins that spike two-hours after a session. Endorphins inhibit pain, reduces stress, and creates a sense of well being.

Swimming- Reduces anxiety and washes away depression. Studies have shown that swimming reduces the need for mental health medication. This fluid exercise reconditions the entire body and mind. Competitive swimming, even on a local level, challenges individuals to unimaginable limits.

Soccer- Competitive team sports such as soccer, have a significant increase in mental health benefits. Team players report fewer days off sick and have an active social life. The team mentality has a mindset with unparalleled benefits. By acting as a group, players improve communication skills, self-esteem, and collaboration. It teaches equal opportunity, endurance, a sense of fair play, and leadership skills. Team players can have great laughs and a lot of fun. But they also go through tough times together, creating close bonds. 

Volleyball-Organizing a local volleyball game with friends or work colleagues is a framework for a healthy social environment. Volleyball is an excellent all-round exercise that challenges every part of the body. It’s easy to arrange, and you can play it in all weathers.

These are a few examples of sports you can organize as a group or activities you can enjoy on your own. Team sport enables a neutral apolitical environment. Group activity connects people beyond race, religion, or ethnicity. A balanced environment in which good mental health can thrive. 

Heads Up for Mental Health

In 2019 Heads Together and the Football Association of Great Britain launched the Heads Up campaign. The goal is to bring awareness to the problems of mental health. Those that suffer are often distanced from those immediately around them.

Lead by personalities such as Prince William and Gareth Southgate. The campaign encourages people to get involved in sports and to become aware of the needs of people with mental health problems.

Conditions such as anxiety and depression can be managed with professional help and by taking personal responsibility. Engaging in team sports or regular exercise is an immediate and transformative way to change and protect your brain, and improve your mental health.

100 Excuses Why You Don’t Exercise [Each countered in full]

100 Excuses Why You Don’t Exercise [Each countered in full]

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When your body only has minimal regular exertion, in the best case you’re holding off an ever-growing tide of deterioration. More commonly, as you age, a sedentary life, makes the body significantly vulnerable to degenerative disease and severe health disorders.

Routine exercise, not only maintains your body’s health and fights off disease, it improves the brain’s health and prevents depression.

Most importantly routine exercise opens your life to many more possibilities, of rich rewards, both metaphorical and literal. Stepping out of the comfort zone can be hell the first time, especially if you’ve never exercised or haven’t in a very long while.

A healthy dose of looking in the mirror and recognizing the excuses you make can go a long way to changing your routine to active living. If you don’t challenge yourself regularly over a sustained period, you probably want to find your answer in the following list. What’s yours?

Exercise, How to Stay Motivated [6 Facts That Will Change Your Life]

Exercise, How to Stay Motivated [6 Facts That Will Change Your Life]

Reading Time: 8 minutes
  1. Feel good. Don’t be a sedentary statistic.
  2. Stay younger with life-long exercise.
  3. Physical activity improves your quality of life.
  4. Exercise keeps your brain functioning longer.
  5. Fitness affects your mental health. 
  6. A fitness lifestyle is an adventure.

1. Feel Good About Yourself. Don’t Be A Sedentary Statistic.​

Don’t become a sedentary lifestyle statistic. The last 40 years have seen a rise in a sedentary lifestyle worldwide. People are less active and out of shape. There’s a massive failure to make exercise a personal priority.

The world health organization

  • Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.
  • Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to preventing NCDs.
  • Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough.
  • More than 80% of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active.

“More than 20 million UK adults are classified as physically inactive increasing their risk of heart disease and costing the UK health service as much as £1.2 billion each year” The British Heart Foundation reports
Obese Adults Worldwide - Clicked.ink

Are you a good role model for kids?

Rise in obesity among kids Clicked.ink
According to studies, over 30% of kids worldwide are either overweight or obese.
While the headlines sensationalize climate change, something the average person can’t do much about, kids are given a free hand to eat what they like, a problem that can be controlled.

2. Stay Younger And Prolong Aging, With Life-Long Exercise.

Studies have shown that people are living longer. As medicine has advanced and nutritional education improved, life expectancy has risen. More people are living past the age of 85. Life expectancy has grown over half a century The average age in the world is rising, but there’s a significant decline in physical activity. If you’re living a sedentary lifestyle, your quality of life will be worse for an extended period. People are living longer but are less active. Stress and the lack of exercise are making aging more noticeable in younger people.

3. Physical Activity Improves Your Quality Of Life

If you want to live a quality life and be less vulnerable to illness, you need to be active. Long-term regular exercise slows down the effects of aging. Life can be very different as you age with life-long fitness training. Check out Lou Smith now over 60-year vegan fitness trainer, still in superb shape. When you’re young, your skin has higher elasticity and bodies more resilient to wear; you’re more active and have more energy. As you age, your metabolism slows down. Your body is changing all the time. You notice it less because you look in the mirror every day and don’t see the gradual change. If you don’t keep in shape, around your 40’s, you start deteriorating. You develop a potbelly, droopy shoulders, a hunched back, loose skin, and a saggy physique. The effects of aging are not only on the surface. It affects your organs, joints, tissues, and cells. Several studies have shown that life-long exercise maintains cardiovascular and skeletal muscle health. Athletes that take part in Life-long Exercise, are still performing into their 90’s. Regular exercise can keep you active, as much as someone 60 years younger. Studies of aging athletes suggest that life-long sports involving regular exercise are the most effective method of inhibiting the symptoms of aging Check this out! At the age of 51, Terry Crews wit 4% body fat, is in the gym at 5 in the morning.

4. Keeping Fit Keeps Your Brain Functioning Longer

As you age, your brain’s functionality declines; legions appear and the brain shrinks by as much as 3.4% per year. We’re not all built the same; some people age better than others. Superagers with the right genetics, age better and show fewer signs of mental deterioration. They remain quite sharp. For those that aren’t so lucky, they lose the ability to learn, multitask, and preserve memory. Aging reduces your cognition, reasoning, how fast you think, and even your vocabulary. If you’ve ever dealt with a gran who wasn’t so lucky, you’ve may have noticed confusion and forgetfulness. It’s heartbreaking seeing someone who’s close, in a catatonic state. How often have you seen someone live out their last years in an armchair, depressed and lonely? But, there’s hope! You can’t change your genetics, but you can deal with your cards in hand. You can sustain your mental faculties by leading an active lifestyle in many ways. Studies suggest that resistance and weight training slows brain legions, developing with age. Another report suggests that cardiovascular training can decrease the risk of dementia.

Ideas for keeping physically active

  • Regular exercise at home (It’s never too late to start)
  • Join a health club or gym
  • Go for daily leisure walks in your local area
  • Go hiking in the countryside
  • Walk or bicycle instead of taking motorized transport
  • Take the stairs instead of escalators (Where realistic)
  • Being physically occupied with hobbies, like gardening
  • Help out in the community
  • Staying busy by traveling to new places

5. Your Level Of Fitness Affects Your Mental Health

People often focus a lot on how their body looks and feels. It’s harder to grapple with mental health and perception. Unless you’re self-aware, you don’t notice when your attitude is off. The brain is the most integral and complex organ of the body. Besides the body’s physical functions, the brain has to make sense of the world and store memories. When your physical body is out of balance, it affects the brain’s functionality. Your perception becomes distorted, and it often goes unnoticed. You sense you’re off, but tend to ignore it, wanting to get on with things as usual. When you’re serotonin levels are optimal, your thinking is clearer. Your energy levels are high, and your mood is right. You’re less volatile and can manage stress easier. But when your lifestyle is out of balance, and you’re not in shape, you have a harder time contending with stress. Mental health is becoming a huge problem that affects millions.
“37% of adults aged 16-74 with conditions of anxiety or depression are accessing mental health treatment” The NHS reports
Genetics, as a base-line, affects mental stability from the start. But beyond genetics, a combination of issues also affects mental health. Beyond genetics, mental health can be affected by a combination of issues
  • Sense of purpose – depression about work
  • Personal social issues – stress related to family and friends
  • Lifestyle – Engagement with social media, entertainment, or leisure
  • Existential worries – financial, security, or political issues
  • Environmental – concerns about the neighborhood or even global
  • Physical well-being – the health and fitness of your physical body
News and social media further magnify your stress levels. It’s an information age, people spend a tremendous amount of time online. According to Ofcom, Britons spend an average of 24 hours a week online. How often do you stop what you’re doing, answer texts, engage in social media, or answer a call? — jumping from one virtual venue to another has a severe effect on your attention span.

Fitness affects your mental health

News and social media further magnify your stress levels

This quasi-cyborg lifestyle is affecting how people engage with one another. Social media has connected the world. But it’s also an amplifier of cynical nihilism. — driving a culture that is more dispassionate, neurotic, volatile, and polarised. The stress from interactions on social media impacts your physical health. If your body is not in shape, the pressure is harder to manage. Stress alters your perception and response to others. When you’re not in prime health, you have less patience to listen. There’s more of a chance you’ll form irrational conclusions. Being tired and out of shape affects your judgment. You become expedient, quick to form opinions without examining the facts. For these reasons, it is more important than ever to maintain your level of fitness. Being in better shape enables you to handle stress and think straight.

6. Changing To A Fitness Lifestyle Is An Adventure.

The secret to success in fitness is first making a Life-choice. The physical body like anything else needs maintenance. You wouldn’t compromise with the health of your car. You have no choice, you wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere. If a part breaks down, it simply won’t run. How much more so, do you need to keep the body in a healthy state? It needs to be pro-actively managed, without compromise. You can change the car, but you can’t change your body. Regular exercise needs to be a no-brainer, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Working out regularly is something you just do. It’s an attitude change. It takes about three weeks to begin to see the benefits of working out and the changes it will bring to your life. The mental uplift puts you on a whole you level. Instead of feeling tired at the end of the day, you have an extra reserve of energy. The body can work harder and do more. If you haven’t exercised in a while, take it easy at first, many people tear into it, and stop after a few weeks. The routine fades away to a forgotten memory. Seek advice from a professional such as a qualified gym instructor.

Health club options have exploded in the last few years.

Pure Gym, UK Pure Gym has over 200 branches located around the UK
Anytime Fitness is one of the largest gym chains worldwide with over 3000 branches. In the US, 24 Hour Fitness is one of the largest private gym chains with over 400 branches. In the UK Pure Gym, is the largest health club, with over 200 locations. Training is much more accessible due to the number of locations and opening hours. There is no long-term contract; you can go monthly and quit anytime. If you don’t like the venue, try somewhere or something else. But do it! Most gyms have qualified instructors on hand, with private lessons available as well. There are cardio and weight machines, free weights, and a slew of exercise classes. Around the clock opening hours make it convenient when creating an exercise schedule. If you’re a night bird, you can have the entire gym to yourself at three in the morning.

Be creative in finding ways to workout

There are so many ways to work-out and keep fit. Going to the gym is only one option. There are many ways to work out. There are many advantages to picking a team sport. The competitive environment challenges you to be committed and to perform. Team sports are a psychological framework that gives a sense of purpose and belonging. Superb for good mental health.

Combined research from international sporting bodies. (Participants not Spectators)

Whether you start at home with YouTube Yoga classes or enroll at the local gym, be consistent. It’s better to work out regularly for a shorter period than a heavy session once a month. Find a sport which most suits you. Some people find running hard on the knees and back. Walking and swimming are better on the joints. Cycling is a superb cardio sport. In bad weather, you can use an indoor spinning bike at home or the gym. Sport is a great way to meet people and socialize with like-minded people. No Excuses. If you haven’t started already, get active today. You deserve it. Let’s hear your experiences with life-long exercise. Feel free to comment below. For more tips on exercise sign-up for email notifications about new posts