App Your Face.
There's an app for that! An app for that! An app for thaaaaaaaat!
There being an app(lication) for everything is an infuriating concept, because so many apps are developed purely for the sake of having an app, and not because the app is filling a need, or is useful. I've done a lot of listening, and presenting, at mobile health conferences, and listening to people talk about their bright, new shiny application can be frustrating when it's development/execution doesn't take into account the needs of people who actually use it. (I think of the people who create apps just for the sake of having an app "appholes.")
But that's an app rant for another time. Today, it's about apps that are useful to me, and not ones that are clearly created just so a company can check the "we have an app for ... something" box.
First one? Runkeeper. I have used Runkeeper for the last few months in efforts to keep tabs on my exercise efforts, and to track progress. When it comes to the motivation to exercise, sometimes it's not enough for me to mentally high-five myself for taking the time to keep my heart healthy or my blood sugars stable. I like seeing the miles I'm logging, and the pace I'm setting, as part of what motivates me to give exercising a go the next day. Runkeeper lets me set goals (like "Bike 500 miles by X Date", even though I'd love to be able to specify that goal, maybe with "Bike 500 Miles and Don't Tip Over by X Date") and track my progress towards those goals.
I like seeing the totals climb. Makes me feel like I'm doing something productive. And, conversely, when I was healing from my tendonitis injury, I used the Runkeeper app to log low long it took me to recover, and to log what exercises irritated my ankle more or less. Adding some of my friends from the DOC has helped, too, because there are folks on there who motivate me to keep moving, purely because I see that they also got their exercise on that day. So this app is useful, to me at least, because it motivates me to get off my arse.
Second one? Sleep Cycle. I blame the use of this one on one of my coast-to-coast traveling friends, who told me that he sleeps better and wakes up more refreshed using the Sleep Cycle alarm. Every time I try to explain what this app does, I stumble through my attempts. "It wakes you up when you're, like, mostly almost awake. When you're sleeping lightest? It grabs you then." The description offered by the site is a bit more streamlined: "A bio-alarm that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase."
i set this app when I go to bed at night, tuck the phone up at the top of our bed, and it wakes me up within 30 minutes of my set alarm time, using tones that are gentle (instead of the jarring ENT ENT ENT noise [not the trees in LOTR /digression]). About 75% of the time, the alarm is fine and I have noticed that, while traveling, waking up without being jolted from bed is a helpful bonus, particularly when I'm out of my own time zone. However, the app hasn't figured out that those moments when it thinks I'm in "deep sleep" are actually times when I'm sitting up and treating a low blood sugar or out of bed consoling a nightmare-roused toddlerbird. But it does track the hours I've slept and the assessed quality of that sleep, and that's helpful when I feel completely drained and then see that I've only slept 10 hours in two days.
This week, I'll be checking out the Training Peaks app and the one for FitBit. I still haven't found a diabetes-specific application that I'd use every day, but health and fitness apps speak to diabetes health overall, so these two technically count, right?
What apps do you actually find useful in your day-to-day quest for health? Are there ones you love? Ones you loathe? Ones that bring you flowers and trim your split ends? Bring it.