How many hours per day do you spend in your chair? If you are like an average Brit who spends about 8.9 hours each day sitting, I’ve got bad news for you: medics now estimate that diseases linked with too much time sitting kill as many people globally as smoking does. For instance, a major 2012 Australian study showed that prolonged sitting was associated with a 7% increase in risk of death over 3 years
One of the biggest reasons for the increase of sedentary lifestyle is technology - from the home computing revolution of the 1990s to Generation X-Box, digital technologies have the unsought potential to glue us to the couch. Yet there are people now using technology to help us re-engage in physical activity. Rob Finch, the marketing director for London digital workplace health start-up StepJockey, that encourages people walk on the stairs using technology, has written for Consciously Digital blog an overview of useful tech apps that are undoing the harm that technology has done to our health, and helps you move.
The tech helps
The trend to help sofa-surfers back onto their feet probably started with games consoles. From X-Box Kinect Sports to Wii Fit, we’ve seen the best part of a decade’s worth of innovation in digital gaming technology coupled with the magic (AKA algorithms) of remote sensing. Tech like this allows usually sedentary gamers to take an active break or get active gaming into their normal routine.
The iPod revolution and subsequent podcast phenomenon enabled health-conscious innovators to come up with wonderful motivational fitness series. These include the incredibly easy and successful Couch to 5K and its imitators. It gives everyone a hand up off the sofa, gradually increases fitness, helping you reach an achievable goal of running 5km non-stop in just 8 weeks.
And in some ways, some of the simplest of functions of smartphones can help you get active. Geocaching, for instance, uses very simple GPS locating technology to turn a walk in town or country into a fun game with a prize.
And for the increasingly sedentary office worker, there are now several apps to get you to give your butt a break. Move is an app that reminds you to stretch and stay active throughout the day. Users can do 300 exercises that you won’t be embarrassed to do in the office.
If you’re ready for something more strenuous, apps like RunKeeper can calculate your running pace, cycling speed, route distance, elevation and calories burnt and blend them with audio coaching and training plans for the more serious.
For a more fun spin on jogging apps, Zombies Run, combines fitness motivation with the pop culture zombie zeitgeist that’s spawned “The Walking Dead”, “World War Z” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.
Wearable tech makes it super-easy to be nudged into getting active Jawbone’s Idle Alert will buzz you when you’ve not moved “enough”. The Apple Watch Activity App and Nike+ FuelBand remind you to move around every hour.
I’m yet to be convinced that wearables are the future. While they’re great at nudging us, they’re too easy to ignore, switch off and put in the drawer. As yet, there’s no “killer app” that makes wearables a must-have, but I firmly believe there soon will be one.
What’s next for digital health?
We’ve already reached a flowering of creative ways to encourage activity. The next step will be to make the comfort of sitting somehow uncomfortable.
Maybe we’ll see apps lock your fun apps until they detect motion every hour. When will we see the app that makes you use Just Dance so that you can unlock Just Eat?
Our lazy lifestyles can’t be cured by digital tech alone. But I’m confident that some very smart brains are working hard to ensure that current and future generations live longer, healthier lives through innovations that stop our armchair existences.
Consciously Digital asks: do you use any health apps or programs yourself? Do you see the change thanks to it? Post your answers in the comments!
A young couple is sitting in a restaurant. He tells her something, which makes her smile, and they share a passionate look. The next moment, he shivers and reaches out for his mobile that has just vibrated in his pocket. Immediately, she reaches out for hers and starts checking the latest Instagram. The moment is gone.
How often do you see this picture? How often are you part of this picture?
An appalling 75% of women say that their digital devices ruin their relationships and intimacy. Conflicts within the couples, higher rates of depression and lower life satisfaction is the price we pay for staying connected all the time. Alarmingly, younger people are even more likely to report tension in their relationships over technology use.
The power of hormones
The main problem with digital devices is that they ruin intimate relationships invisibly, changing us on physiological level. Our relationships are mainly ruled by two key hormones – dopamine, the hormone of pleasure, and oxytocin, the hormone of bonding. Dopamine gets released when we eat chocolate, have sex, find interesting piece of information or get social recognition, and especially when we anticipate any reward. Dopamine is the hormone that gets you all excited when you are dressing up for the night to finally meet your date.
However, technology has made getting dopamine easier than ever. All you need to do is to post a picture on Instagram, get a like or two and bum! – you’ve got your dopamine injection! More likes – more dopamine! No need to even make any sexual moves. No wonder that some research shows that couples who have iPads in their bedrooms have little to no sex life. Our brain simply finds it more pleasurable (and easier, too) to get dopamine online than to engage into sexual activities!
Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, develops when people touch each other, share important experiences – and most importantly, when they are fully present for each other. However, when your device is constantly on and you are getting distracted, the quality of your bonding just cannot improve! Being distracted in a relationship means that we don’t have time or energy to build a deeper understanding of the person. Even worse, when your brain is overloaded with constant information (which happens to you when you are online), it has no time to develop so-called higher emotions, like compassion, that take some time to process information.
Save your love
Unfortunately, telling your darling just to stop staring at their mobile doesn’t normally help – they have already been hooked on a hormonal level. One option of saving your relationship is going on a digital detox trip, something more and more couples decide to do. According to Snaptrip, an online travel company, 70% of respondents are willing to go on a ‘digital detox’ weekend (i.e. limited phone reception and no wi-fi) with their partner to improve/save the relationships.
However, escaping for the weekend will give you a break, but it doesn’t solve the major “hook up” problem – if you want to keep your intimate relationship thriving, you first need to review your own relationship with technology.
Become more conscious about what you are doing on a daily basis and make choices all the time. For instance, stop putting your mobile phone on the table or anywhere visible when you’re with the loved one – it’s been proven that people perceive their conversations as less intimate if the device is present, even if on silent. Make certain areas of your flat i.e. bedroom tech-free. Try it at least this St Valentine’s weekend – being fully present with your second half will be the best gift for them.
PS Consciously Digital is running a special promotion with 20% off our signature Declutter Your Digital Life course this weekend. Making space in your digital life is a great step towards improving your relationship with those you truly care about. A couple can use the same access code.
From this week, we're introducing something special: Detox Fridays. We select some of the most interesting facts, tips, stories and pics from the world around the digital detox topic, saving you time and letting you know all you need for a healthier and less stressful lifestyle.
Here are the three top picks from this week:
1. Four signs you are NOT addicted to tech (from an interview with an expert of National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in India):
2. Then you may want to follow these four tips to disconnect productively from a PR agency owner who thinks digital detox saved her business:
3. Alternatively, you may want to go into the African Bush on Back to Basics - an initiative set up by an Accenture employee for super-connected overachievers, who are taken into the wild for a week no heating/water/and importantly, no Wi-Fi. She backs up her project by the research claiming that the best leaders take time to slow down and spend at least 1/3 (!) of their week on self-reflection.
Bonus track: In the light of upcoming St Valentine's, mobile is named by researchers among the top reasons of problems between the couples. Enjoy, a few awesome creative ideas from Adnews and help your loved ones raise awareness about digital detox in our lives.
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Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.