According to the Seattle Times, smartphones are having a detrimental effect on both our physical and mental health. The paper claims that smartphone usage, particularly among younger people, is ruining our relationships, putting us in danger, and causing real psychological problems. Young couples at restaurants don’t talk to each other anymore. People walk down streets with their eyes glued to their smartphones, not looking where they’re going. And social media addicts continually update their timelines to see whether people are commenting on the latest photo of them eating breakfast.
But despite some of the negative headlines, smart technology contained in our phones has real potential to do us good. As with any new technology, it’s a double-edged sword, with both promise and peril.
Here are some of the ways you can use your smartphone to improve your health.
According to experts, we should be getting at least 20 minutes of activity, three times a week. Though that might not sound like much, it’s actually a lot more than the average middle-aged person gets. According to recent data, 6 in 10 middle-aged people don’t even take a brisk 10-minute walk once per month. In other words, we’re currently in the midst of a sedentary living epidemic.
App developers know this, and so they’re currently developing apps which have sensors built into them – a bit like old-fashioned pedometers – which track the extent of a person’s movement. Ideally, people should get 10,000 steps per day, but very few people get close to this number. The hope is that the apps will act as an incentive to get people closer to their daily targets.
In the past, elderly people had to rely on alarms and the telephone to get help if they got into trouble. But thanks to smartphones, it’s now possible to institute a home surveillance system which provides audio, and video feeds in real time. These systems can provide elderly people with security, while also giving relatives and medical professionals the ability to respond quickly, should there be an emergency.
Just saying that you’re going to be healthy is too big an objective for most people. For the majority, achieving health is a process. Every day a person achieves small daily targets on their way to achieving sustainable health in the long term.
Now app developers have recognized this and have begun creating apps to help people set better health goals. Basic calendar apps contain user-specified reminders telling users to undertake healthy activities, like “go cycling twice per week” or “eat 5 portions of vegetables today.”
Heart Rate Monitor
Heart rate monitors typically have uncomfortable chest straps. But new apps, like the Runtastic HR monitor, do away with all that. So long as you have a good enough smartphone camera sensor, you can check your heart rate by placing a finger over the lens. The app will then analyze the signal coming in and tell you your heart rate on the screen. Resting heart rates should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute.