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Fitness Apps Are Terrible For My Health

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Fitness apps are ruining my health.

It's bad enough that I'm regularly bombarded with signs on the tube telling my I'm not taking enough of every vitamin ever created. So why on earth would I voluntarily submit to this guilt-ridden abuse via my smartphone as well?

First off let me ask you this, how many people have you seen actually wearing a fitness tracker? I travel on a bus and a tube every day and not once have I see a single Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP or Garmin Vivofit.

They must be somewhere otherwise why would these companies keep making them? One theory I've had is that a group of altruistic tech-savvy farmers have bought the entire lot for their livestock. A happy sheep is an active sheep.

Or perhaps I don't see them around for another reason, which is this: we're not perfect and we don't want to be.

Ultimately it boils down to two very different types of fitness product (be it hardware or software): the ones that keep us moving and the ones that want us to move faster.

The problem is is that the second of those has started asking too much of us.

I propose that the average person (to whom these companies are trying to convert) will be interested in knowing a) how many steps they take, b) how far they've travelled c) whether or not these two things combined have turned them into an urban Hercules.

On finding that c) has not been achieved they'll shrug their shoulders, and think that maybe they'll go for a walk tomorrow.

The Misfit Shine falls into the first of these two categories; it's devilishly simple and gives you the absolute minimum amount of information you need to stay healthy and active.

It works, you stop becoming a calorie counting obsessive and instead you look down, see what you've done and think 'OK, so maybe I should go for a walk at lunch'.

With health experts constantly stressing the importance of just staying mobile the Shine can ask as little as that but yet still giving you the option to take things more seriously if you want.

What worries me are the apps and products that turn 'wellbeing' into a competition.

These are the apps that start asking me what my mood is when I've woken up (it's obviously livid, you've just woken me up), the apps that want to know how much coffee I've drunk and the apps that measure my heart rate.

They put our health front and centre on the screens of our smartphones, and then start comparing us with the rest of the world. All while reminding us to get moving, eat better and sit up straight.

The problem with this is that they're trying to turn us into the perfect human being, who drinks just under the caffeine limit, does yoga every morning and feels bright and refreshed when we wake up.

There are those for which these apps will be perfect, they'll have the flexibility in their lives to follow the advice given and might even see improvements from better sleep to generally feeling happier. In other cases they'll be genuinely medically useful. But for the majority of us I just can't help feeling that it's all becoming a step too far.

Doctors know what they're doing, we pay our taxes for precisely that reason, the moment we start trying to analyse our own wellbeing beyond what we fully understand we open up an entirely new can of worms.