Smartphone applications for a healthier you

Twlug–ASP Communications Standing Committee

Pharmacy school provides the opportunity to help patients and improve the profession, but most would agree it is no walk in the park. With exams to take, guidelines to memorize, and internships to find, it is easy to forget about your personal health. Luckily, for those who find more time for their smartphones than their well-being, free, app-based solutions are available to help take back control of mental and physical health.  
 
Mental health
It may be a surprise to hear that some stress is actually beneficial. It can help you stay alert, be prepared, and remain productive. The line between some stress and too much stress is thin, however, and it is essential to know where the line is so you can avoid burnout. Stress Tracker is a popular app designed to help users cope with their emotional, mental, and physical health. Stress Tracker tracks activities, identifies sources of stress, and evaluates lifestyle conditions. It is an easy and useful tool to help avoid the causes of unnecessary stress.
 
The number one thing that student pharmacists say contributes to their stress is lack of sleep. For those wanting a healthier sleep schedule, the Sleep Time app acts as a “smart” alarm clock. It analyzes sleep patterns and determines the best time to set off the alarm based on your body’s movements and sleep phases. 
 
Time management
Time management is another crucial skill to master in order to be successful in pharmacy school. When creating your daily schedule, it is important to separate your task list into two categories: important and not important. The Any.Do app can help you avoid spending too much time on unessential tasks by  allowing users to create a tasklist with personalized headers such as “important tasks” and “not important tasks.” When you complete a task, you digitally cross it out. After crossing out enough tasks, you can receive rewards and discounts from major retailers.
 
When you need to complete important goals in a timely fashion, Time Planner can help you set more honest deadlines. Upon completing a task, the app will ask how long it actually took you to complete it. This app can then provide reports comparing your planned project lengths to your actual project lengths.
 
Healthy diet
Do you find yourself starting the morning with a big cup of sugar and caffeine, or do you decide to have a piece of fruit? You depend on nutrition for so many things, and to have your body running optimally, it is important to select the premium fuel. Many apps can help you achieve the healthy diet necessary to run at top speed.  
My Fitness Pal, a calorie tracking app that also hosts a food database with more than 2 million foods listed, includes features such as a package barcode scanner and automatic website syncing for meal planning. Among the more educational apps are Fooducate and Superfoods. Both provide nutritional ratings and mini-articles highlighting individual health benefits. Another option is Allthecooks, which hosts more than 150,000 user-submitted recipes. Included is the meal creator, which allows users to input various ingredients and learn what meals they can make. For those who follow gluten-free diets, Orgran is a popular selection, with more than 300 recipes.
 
Exercise and fitness
While pharmacy school can definitely be a workout for the brain, your body is often neglected within your busy schedule. No gym membership? No problem. There are apps that make it easy and fun to take a step away from the desk and get active. Start off with a simple run using the MapMyRun app. This app uses your phone’s GPS to track fitness activities, including walking, running, and cycling. It also tracks your workout’s duration, distance, pace, speed, calories burned, and route traveled. The app is also compatible with other fitness gear, such as Nike+, Garmin, and Fitbit, and it can be linked with My Fitness Pal. Never tried running before? The C25K–5K Trainer app can create a schedule to have you running a 5k in 8 weeks. The program alternates between running and walking workouts three times a week to build strength and endurance. 
 
Workout Trainer has thousands of premade exercise routines with step-by-step audio, photo, and video instruction. The routines are categorized into abdominal workouts, yoga, weight loss, and much more.
 
Reduce your burden
Use these apps to help reduce stress, manage time, eat a balanced diet, and get active so you can live a healthier life and lead the next generation of student pharmacists.