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Applications and gadgets to monitor the exercise: Do they really work or are they a danger?

You just have to take a look at the offer to verify that it is overwhelming: there are dozens of mobile applications, as well as specific gadgets, which monitor our daily physical activity and set goals to be achieved.

One of the best known is walking 10,000 steps a day. The figure is not casual: it is based on a study conducted in the 60s in Japan that stated that burning a total of 2,000 calories a week through physical activity was a health benefit for middle-aged men. Hence the calculation of the 10,000 daily steps (you can find more information about this goal here).

The same goal for all

With the popularization of these devices and their objectives, several scientists have expressed their concern. Could these gadgets and applications cause more harm than good?

One of those who has asked this question is Greg Hager, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University. Hager argues that there is no scientific evidence to support the recommendations of most of these applications, and that it is not sensible to think that a single recommendation can be applied in a generalized manner to all users.

“There is an incredibly high number of apps out there that are downloaded by people who can understand, or not, what they are saying or in what context they are doing,” said Hager. “Until you have evidence-based apps, this can create and amplify the problem.” Imagine that everyone believes that they should take 10,000 steps a day, but that some are not physically able to do so, could end up causing more harm than benefit”.

Apps are not enough by themselves

Other scientists, on the other hand, do not agree with this concern. A study by the University of Pittbusbug determined a few months ago that in fact the apps and gadgets that monitor physical activity do not help lose weight by themselves. You can not trust them as a magic remedy that will make us lose weight on their own .

But the same director of the study, John Jakicic, believes that there is a place for this technology within the impulse of better habits. Other supporters point in the same direction, and remember that everything is helpful if we maintain common sense and do not let ourselves be enslaved by these apps: that technology works for you and not the other way around.

The ‘apps’ do not reach those who would benefit most

In fact, another interesting part in this debate is who uses these devices and if they are really reaching who could best take advantage of them. Several studies have asked this question: who uses apps to monitor exercise and health?

Although many today are available to virtually anyone with a smartphone, the usual response is that you want to download and use are generally young users, in good health and have higher income. There is still a technological gap that prevents those who could take advantage of them (older people or those with a health problem, with less information about health at their fingertips, with more room for improvement in their habits …) to use them.

All this is summarized in that although the applications that monitor the exercise can serve as motivation to move more , we must take their objectives with caution if they have not been specifically designed for us by a specialist, and that well understood and used can be help for people with little information about health and exercise to lead healthier habits.

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