Pedometer, fitness tracker, calorie limit and more. – do you really need all these apps? In her column, Annika Makowka takes a critical look at health apps and tools.
Track your weight loss progress, count your daily steps or calories, check your drinking habits or your heart rate – there are now hundreds of smartphone apps for just that. In addition, there are a number of relevant devices, such as a fitness bracelet or a smart watch, that you may need to understand every second of the day and every possible symptom.
Who is talking about health programs?
Basically, health apps are a good thing because many of the things and activities that can affect a person’s health happen mostly unconsciously.
For example, after a day at your home office, you notice how little you’re moving when your pedometer just hits 200 steps. Or, in fact, you’ve been planning to drink more water for a long time, and the relevant app reminds you in time.
And even heart arrhythmias or high blood pressure can now be detected more quickly with modern smart watches – and convince sufferers that a check-up with a doctor might not be a bad idea.
There’s also preliminary research that shows that regular use of pedometers, fitness trackers, and the like alone motivates people to adapt their behavior. The real catchphrase: The app notices when I’m not doing enough for my health, so I have to take countermeasures.
Why should health programs be viewed critically?
First of all, being disciplined and ambitious is not a bad thing, is it? In fact, many positive and motivating qualities can be attributed to health programs. But it becomes difficult when the constant drive for self-control and self-optimization increases.
Of course, forming positive habits is highly commendable, but if you’re worried about not being able to keep track of your weight every day while on vacation, or if you’re not entering your meals into an app, for example, alarm bells should be ringing.
Error-prone and open to interpretation
And health apps reinforce misinterpretations. Measurement errors can always occur, so that, for example, the heart rate is too low or too high when jogging. For sufferers, this can mean that they are either pushing their physical limits or increasingly worried about their heart health, even though they are fine.
Listen to your body’s signals
Anyone who uses health apps regularly should know that they don’t always work reliably – and most importantly, there are individual factors that play a role in a person’s health.
In any case, it makes sense to listen to yourself and listen to your body’s signals: do I feel fit enough to take 10,000 steps today? Do I really feel like my heart is beating faster than normal? Should I go to bed now just because my app tells me it’s time to sleep? Or also: Am I hungry or thirsty? After all, you know yourself best anyway!