Science says it takes an average of 66 days to develop a new habit - know that an app can help!

6 min read

A journal with a list of tasks and colored spots marking the days on which the tasks were completed

In fact, it depends on the person and the new habit to be acquired! And you should know that the famous notion of 21 days, which is widely found on the internet as sufficient to establish a habit, is now well recognized as a myth (1).

But first, what is a habit, and how do you acquire a new one?

In everyday life, a habit is a behavior that you perform frequently or even consistently, as in the expression "by habit".

Habits are important because they allow you to continue doing an action even when the motivation or interest to do it no longer exists.

They also allow a reduction of your mental load, thanks to the automation of many small actions in your daily life, such as brushing your teeth, which is well known to be very important for dental health.

It is therefore a pity that the development of new habits is so difficult. And yet it's so simple! To acquire a new habit, all you have to do is repeat an action consistently in the same context. When you can't do it, it's often the consistency that you lack.

Fortunately, we will see that there are apps to help you achieve this.

Indeed, one trick that can help is to break the habit down into small actions or small changes. The use of a calendar or a diary, in which you check off each day the completion of your actions, can be very useful. This is the idea behind "habit tracking". And good news, this method is very easy to implement and to practice via an app!

Now, let's have a closer look at how an app can help you

First of all, and you may find that ironic, you'll have to get into the habit of using a habit tracking app consistently to reap the benefits! But this first habit, which will be all the easier since you often have your mobile device at hand, will allow you to unlock the power of this tool, whether it's for your physical or mental health, for your personal growth, or just to help you with your daily and mundane tasks.

Like using a paper journal, an app will allow you to track your progress, and give you a sense of accountability for your perseverance and success. But in addition to being practical, it will have other benefits that only an app can provide, such as:

  • the creation of reminders, so that you think every day to achieve your planned actions;

  • an automatic achievement day counter, which resets if you break your sequence by missing a day: this way, you will feel accountable for not failing your series when you reach a significant number of continuous achievements;

  • a community support to cheer you on, encourage you or even put healthy pressure on you to achieve your goals;

  • personal or group challenges, badges, and all sorts of prizes for achieving the desired behavior. If you are interested in the subject of "gamification", I invite you to consult this other TherAppX article on the subject;

  • a follow-up with analysis of your data, allowing you to follow your successes and failures more easily, and sometimes to understand their causes.

Some apps that offer one or more of these features

You will note that few of these apps have been the subject of clinical studies; they therefore deserve fairly low clinical robustness scores. However, you should know that generic app-based habit building research exists (2,3), and that psychological research has studied some of the principles behind the features offered by these apps (1,4-7).


Track your habits, goals, tasks and emotions in this guilt-free app. Create your own routines, set realistic goals, add tasks that when completed will make you feel good, track your moods and emotions, and take time to reflect on and prioritize the things that cause positive emotions or add value to your life.

apple is available for this applicationandroid is available for this application
In-app purchases

Visually fabulous

Fabulous: Daily Habit Tracker is a habit tracking app for your physical and mental health. It helps you create and accomplish healthy routines in an engaging and user-friendly environment. The app also offers coaching videos, a community of members to encourage you, and challenges to get motivation from.

Fabulous claims to be more than just a habit-tracking app: it's a true platform for personal growth, coaching and mental health.

apple is available for this applicationandroid is available for this application
In-app purchases

Routines and feelings

This app allows the creation of healthy routines to integrate into your daily life. In addition to creating reminders and tracking your progress, it also allows you to track your emotional states and practice self-reflection. Furthermore, the app uses these elements to highlight, on a weekly basis, the possible link between how you felt and the completion of your habits, which can be very useful and motivating.

Focused on nutrition, exercise and addiction

Highly customizable, Streaks allows you to choose from a multitude of habits, and track them with statistics and graphs.

Also available in French, it is unfortunately only available in an iOS version; it integrates easily with the Apple Health app.

application icon
Crunchy Bagel
apple is available for this application

Inclusive of neurodiversity

Tiimo offers all the features you would expect from an app in this category (except for community support), in a visual and motivating way. It will be useful for everyone, including people with ADD or ASD. It will help those for whom planning, organization, time management and focus are a challenge.

The iOS version allows you to track your goals on your Apple watch, or with a "widget" on your mobile device screen.

apple is available for this applicationandroid is available for this application
In-app purchases

For children and adults with attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or other

The Brili Routines apps are available in child and adult versions.

They offer to track your (or your child’s) habits, classified in different categories, such as sleep, study or sport, and allow you to set goals and track your progress, while offering rewards to motivate you (or your kid!). They allow the creation of reminders, and timers to avoid procrastinating during certain tasks.

apple is available for this applicationandroid is available for this application
In-app purchases

New habits for a healthy life

You are well aware that it is difficult to integrate new habits into your daily life, and to maintain them in the long term. However, through different features inspired by psychology, several apps can help you integrate and maintain new habits.

In the field of health, some habits are particularly important to prevent, control or even help in the treatment of certain diseases; these could be eating well, doing physical activity, practicing mindfulness to manage stress or pain, or getting better sleep, and many others.

Others should be stopped to avoid or reduce a health problem, like smoking for example. Many of the apps presented above can also be used to break these bad habits! And for your current positive lifestyle habits, whether they are suboptimal or already very good, there will always be room to do better; an app will certainly be able to help you reach your goals!

References :

  1. Benjamin Gardner, British journal of general practice, 2012 Dec, Making health habitual: the psychology of 'habit-formation' and general practice,

  2. Marco Stojanovic, Axel Grund, Stefan Fries, Frontiers in psychology, 2020 Feb 7, App-Based Habit Building Reduces Motivational Impairments During Studying - An Event Sampling Study,

  3. Marja Harjumaa, Pilvikki Absetz, Miikka Ermes, Elina Mattila, Reija Männikkö, Tanja Tilles-Tirkkonen, Niina Lintu, Ursula Schwab, Adil Umer, Juha Leppänen, Jussi Pihlajamäki, JMIR Diabetes, 2020 Aug 11, Internet-Based Lifestyle Intervention to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Through Healthy Habits: Design and 6-Month Usage Results of Randomized Controlled Trial,

  4. Sally Di Maio, Jan Keller, Dominika Kwasnicka, Nina Knoll, Lena Sichert, Lena Fleig, Appetite, 2022 May 14, What helps to form a healthy nutrition habit? Daily associations of intrinsic reward, anticipated regret, and self-efficacy with automaticity,

  5. Nathalie Kliemann, Victoria Vickerstaff, Helen Croker, Fiona Johnson, Irwin Nazareth, Rebecca J Beeken, 2017 Sep 5, The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, The role of self-regulatory skills and automaticity on the effectiveness of a brief weight loss habit-based intervention: secondary analysis of the 10 top tips randomised trial,

  6. Gaby Judah, Benjamin Gardner, Michael G Kenward, Bianca DeStavola, Robert Aunger, BMC psychology, 2018 Dec 20, Exploratory study of the impact of perceived reward on habit formation,

  7. Benjamin Schüz, Falko F Sniehotta, Amelie Wiedemann, Rainer Seemann, 2006 Sep, British Society of Periodontology, Adherence to a daily flossing regimen in university students: effects of planning when, where, how and what to do in the face of barriers,

Your health care professional can help you choose

Feeling confident is important. Get all the essential information about health apps by talking to your healthcare professional.

AppGuide provides reliable information about mobile health apps that allows patients and healthcare professionals to make informed, shared decisions about using a health app to track health status or act on your priority health goals.

Learn more

Find more content on the best mobile health apps

More articles

TherAppX logo

AppGuide is powered by TherAppX, © 2023 TherAppX

For any technical problem, confidentiality issue or to report any health problem related to the use
of AppGuide, please contact us at