Stop for a second and think about this: 2.3 billion smart phone users worldwide will download an estimated 268 billion mobile apps in 2017. Three quarters of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone and nearly 90 percent of the time spent using a smartphone is spent within an app.
Given those statistics, it seems likely that at some point most of us will use a smartphone app to better manage our health, and to better manage life with MS — and there are plenty of MS-focused apps available. Making the most of all these options can be overwhelming and space on your phone may be a valuable commodity.
Here are a few you may find helpful (or at least they may lead you to others that better suit your needs):
My MS Manager is a free app for both Apple and Android that lets you track MS activity, store medical information and also generate reports based on metrics including mood, symptoms, treatments and more. It also includes links to additional resources and the ability to securely connect with members of your care team.
MS Self, free for Apple and Android, offers some interesting journaling opportunities, including the Journal Insight feature that provides “insights based on your previous journal entries and reveals important trends or changes related to your MS symptoms.” You will also find Fitbit connectivity and access to educational “Fact Cards” that include tools to “keep your mind and body in good health.”
Momentum Magazine by the National MS Society was named “one of Healthline’s Top 10 iPhone and Android apps of 2014.” This free app gives users access to Momentum magazine, the largest MS-related publication in the world. The magazine and app feature “stories of people living their best lives with MS, consumer issues, news of life-changing advances in MS research, and reports on MS activism.” (Full disclosure: I am proud to be a contributor to the magazine, too.)
Physical Fitness Apps
With or without MS, movement, balance, strength and flexibility are vital to staying fit, especially as we age. Yoga addresses each of these and, according to Harvard Medical School, may be used as an effective treatment for stress, depression and anxiety.
Yet yoga classes may not be for everyone. First, they are not always easily accessible. And, they may not be adaptive to your health and ability level. Finally, not everyone is comfortable practicing yoga in a group and private instruction may not be an option.
Pocket Yoga and yoga.com apps aren’t specifically for people with MS (and as always, consult your physician before adding this into your fitness program), but they let you practice yoga anywhere, anytime and offer different difficulty levels. Both require a small fee to get started ($2.99 and $3.99 respectively) and both offer in-app purchases. Yoga.com features video classes and Pocket Yoga promises to guide users through entire sessions, including teaching them poses via their pose dictionary.
Though the Accessible Yoga Network doesn’t have an app, it has an easy to use mapping feature that can help you find a yoga class based upon your capabilities.
Mental Health Apps
Calm is a free app for both Apple and Android users. Stories about “unplugging” and “digital detox” are all the rage these days, so there is a certain irony to a digital device offering an app to help you calm down and quiet your mind. Calm offers some free content along with content available for monthly fee beginning at $4.99 a month per year. It’s worth visiting their website just for the calming effect. Trust me. Do it now.
Stop, Breathe and Think is a free app for Android and iOS that promises “five minutes to peace.” Featuring funky chunky line art illustrations, it walks users through the basics of mindfulness, meditation and what to expect from a consistent “practice” of both.
And, Just Handy to Have Apps
Medisafe Pill Reminder is a free app available for both Apple and Android users. According to MediSafe Inc., 50 percent of us don’t take our medication as prescribed. Many of us with MS have lots of medicines and pills to take daily, and the sheer routine of it all can make it hard to remember which pills you’ve taken and which pills you haven’t. Medisafe Pill Reminder can help you take all of your medicine, and take it on time, too.
Red Cross First Aid app is available to both Apple and Android users. Accidents happen and this multi-functional app “puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand” for everyday accidents and emergencies and features preloaded information in the event you don’t have Internet or cellphone connection. It includes how to prepare for droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather-related events and even features pet first aid, too.
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