Health Apps Doctors Love
You’re not the only one obsessed with smart phone apps. So are top docs. We sat down with Memorial Hermann’s finest to get the scoop on their favorites. Whether you want motivation to move, lose weight, get pregnant or sleep better, there’s an app for that.
APPS THAT HELP YOU GET FIT
FOR: Customized workouts.
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FAB FEATURES: Cardio, yoga or strength-training workouts are customized, based on type of workout and available time, from 5-60 minutes. “The app helps you squeeze workouts into your busy day,” says Dr. Zaveri, a family medicine physician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Greater Heights Convenient Care Center. A quick video showing proper form accompanies the workout.
USERS: For the time-crunched, ages 12 and up.
COST: Free workouts are limited, $3.99 for additional workouts.
Whether you want motivation to move, lose weight, get pregnant or sleep better, there’s an app for that.
FOR: Calorie and exercise tracking.
FAB FEATURES: You can keep a food diary, track exercise and get tips to lose or maintain your weight. Smart food choices are easier thanks to a calorie counter that scans barcodes of packaged foods and a database of calorie counts for dishes at chain restaurants. Plus you can see your weight gain and loss over time. “It’s a great motivator,” Dr. Zaveri says. The app tracks calories in (food) versus calories out (exercise). MyFitnessPal also syncs with FitBit.
USERS: For those wishing to lose weight, step up their exercise and live healthy.
FOR: Monitoring sleep and workout intensity via heart rate.
FAB FEATURES: Dr. Elcy John, an OB/GYN physician with Memorial Hermann Medical Group at the Woodlands, uses this app to keep tabs on the quality of her sleep and exercise, while using MyFitnessPal to count calories. “That’s why I use both.”
USERS: For the sleep- or exercise-deprived.
CONS: None, other than you must own a FitBit to use it.
Couch to 5K®
FOR: A progressive, nine-week program to build up from inactivity to running a 5K (3.1-mile) race.
FAB FEATURES: Couch to 5K tells you what to do, including warm-up and cool-down, says Dr. John. Workouts of 20-30 minutes thrice weekly are varied and use intervals and other fitness principles to boost cardiovascular health – and motivation.
USERS: For fitness newbies and those who’d like to move without too much thought.
APPS THAT HELP YOU STRESS LESS
Calm® and Pacifica©
FOR: Both apps introduce meditation and mindfulness to enhance relaxation and happiness.
FAB FEATURES: Guided meditations and deep-breathing instructions are easy to follow, and Calm’s bedtime stories set to calming music help you relax and fall asleep. You also can note your sleep patterns over time.
Pacifica lets you set goals to cut stress and gain confidence, contentment or a more positive outlook on life. The app offers activities based on your goals. The app offers an online database of therapists, and for a fee y ou can join online support groups for depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.
COST: Free, but you can purchase some sessions and advanced programs with both apps.
APPS THAT HELP YOU STAY HEALTHY
FOR: Educating diabetics and encouraging them to keep tabs on their blood sugar levels.
FAB FEATURES: An easy-to-use and entertaining app helps you monitor blood glucose and carbohydrates (which can spike blood sugar). You also can set reminders to check your food log or write down your meals. It provides information specific to your form of diabetes. It also can track blood pressure.
USERS: Insulin- and non insulin- dependent Type I and Type II diabetics.
FOR: Medical emergencies and natural disasters.
FAB FEATURES: The app gives tips on what to do and how to give appropriate first aid.
USERS: For anyone who lives in Houston.
FOR: A general health app to learn about conditions and symptoms.
FAB FEATURES: Knowledge is power when it comes to watching your diet, getting rest and exercising. The risk is being over-confident about your own med sleuthing abilities. “The app cannot diagnose a problem,” Dr. John says. “You need a full history and physical by an actual physician to figure out what’s going on.”
USERS: For anyone curious about symptoms.
APPS THAT HELP YOU TRACK YOUR MEDS
Care Zone© and Round Health©
FOR: Organizing long, complicated medication lists for yourself or a loved one.
FAB FEATURES: You can scan barcodes or take photos of your prescription bottles and Care Zone tracks doses and refill dates to keep medications organized. You also can get refills via the app. Another app Dr. Zaveri recommends is Round Health, which not only keeps tab of prescriptions and vitamins, but also interacts with Apple watches and smartphones to alert you when it’s time to take meds.
USERS: For caregivers and people who take multiple medications.
FOR: Price comparisons for prescriptions.
FAB FEATURES: Not only does GoodRx make it easy to price-compare pharmacies, but it also offers coupons and discounts on various prescriptions,” Dr. Zaveri says.
USERS: Bargain hunters who take prescription medications.
APPS THAT HELP SOON-TO-BE AND NEW PARENTS
Period Tracker Lite©
FOR: A guide to your menstrual cycle.
FAB FEATURES: Noting the start, duration and intensity of your periods prepares you for symptoms. You also learn more about hormones affecting menstruation and mood. Your menstrual history helps you be aware if pain is from menstruation, ovulation or neither.
USERS: Any female between 12 and menopause.
Ovia Pregnancy Tracker and Ovia Fertility Tracker
FOR: Timing your ovulation cycle with Ovia Fertility; taking you through the next nine months with Ovia Pregnancy.
FAB FEATURES: The fertility app claims its users conceive up to three times faster than the national average. Once pregnant, the app educates you on the baby’s development, pregnancy symptoms and exercises you can do while pregnant. And you get a countdown to birth and online support groups. However, if you have concerning symptoms, “it’s best to talk with your doctor,” Dr. John says.
USERS: For hopeful and soon-to-be parents.
FOR: A pregnancy guide
FAB FEATURES: You learn about your baby and his or her pre-birth development while tracking your weight, contractions, baby kicks and doctors’ appointments, Dr. John says. You also can keep a journal, take selfies and choose a baby name.
USERS: For soon-to-be parents.
FOR: A milestone tracker for a child’s first 20 months, week by week, helping parents understand what’s going on in their non-conversant baby’s mind.
FAB FEATURES: “The app gives really good insight into what babies should be doing and what to expect down the road,” says Dr. Sameena Mohiuddin, pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Sugar Land Primary Care. “It also gives parents tips and activities to do with their children to promote appropriate development.” And just knowing that cranky, clingy and crying stages are steps to mental maturity can comfort.
USERS: For new parents.
FOR: Those wanting to keep abreast of the latest gynecological research.
FAB FEATURES: Wondering about your symptoms? You can type them in and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists will give pointers. ACOG also helps calculate your due date and provides the latest gynecology research, Dr. John says. “This is one of the best apps I use.”
USERS: For people who want to be on top of symptoms and medical studies.
Information provided should not be used in place of medical direction from a physician. Speaking and regularly scheduled visits with your doctor is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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