Most people would agree that leading a healthy lifestyle is essential. However, recent technological advances have made some experts concerned that our increasingly deskbound lifestyles intensify our health issues. In particular, they point to the rise in popularity of health apps as one of the main culprits.
There are now health apps for everything from tracking our steps to monitoring our diets. And while these apps can certainly help promote healthy habits, some experts believe they may be doing more harm than good.
Westfield Health, a leading healthcare company in the UK, looks at the main ways health apps could potentially be leading to unintended consequences in terms of health and sheds light on what could be done in this regard:
Worsening sleep patterns
Some evidence suggests that sleep apps could worsen our sleep by causing anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, a study found that participants who used sleep apps had more difficulty falling asleep than those who did not. It is not entirely clear why sleep apps might make our sleep worse. One possibility is that the apps are not accurately tracking our sleep. Additionally, the apps may be causing us to worry about our rest, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
If you are using a sleep app and are not happy with your sleep, it might be worth trying to sleep without it for a few nights. If you find that your sleep improves without the app, the app is likely to be the culprit.
The yo-yo effect
Health apps often focus on short-term goals rather than long-term health – this can lead to a yo-yo effect, where people become obsessed with reaching their daily step goal or eating a certain number of calories but then quickly fall off the wagon when they don’t meet their target.
The resulting situation can be extremely frustrating and even discourage people from being active or eating healthy. After all, if they do not see results immediately, why bother?
Stress-induced by health apps
Fitness apps are putting too much pressure on people by constantly reminding them of their fitness goals and how far they have to go to reach them, which can be discouraging and cause people to give up on their fitness goals altogether. Additionally, fitness apps often compare people’s progress to others, making them feel like they are not good enough and damaging their self-esteem.
Most fitness apps are designed to be used by people already in good shape – an average person is likely to find it challenging to meet the app’s expectations, thus leading to feelings of frustration and failure.
According to the Digital Health Generation survey, young people report feeling “anxiety and terror” from fitness-oriented apps.
So, what’s the solution?
While there’s no easy answer, people should focus on developing healthy habits rather than fixating on numbers which means making minor changes to your lifestyle that you can stick with over the long term.
For example, rather than setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps every day, try aiming to walk for 30 minutes every day. Or, instead of stressing over every calorie you eat, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.
Making such changes may not seem like much, but they can significantly impact your overall health. And, perhaps more importantly, they’re much more likely to stick than any fad diet or quick-fix solution.
It is essential to research before downloading any health app to consult with your doctor or healthcare providers available through your health coverage.
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