Are Step Counting Apps Doing More Harm Than Good?

Girl walking

Is it time for us to start chucking our Fitbits and stop obsessing about hitting daily distance goals? More than 3million step counting apps are sold in the UK every year, but a leading computer scientist has claimed that they could be doing more harm to our health than good.

Dr Greg Hager, from Johns Hopkins University in the US, was particularly critical of apps and devices that set a target of 10,000 steps as he believes “very few” of the programs are actually based on scientific evidence.

So far, so worrying.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, he said: “Some of you might wear Fitbits or something equivalent, and I bet every now and then it gives you that cool little message ‘You did 10,000 steps today’.

“But why is 10,000 steps important? What’s big about 10,000?

“Turns out in 1960 in Japan they figured out that the average Japanese man, when he walked 10,000 steps a day, burned something like 3,000 calories and that is what they thought the average person should consume. So they picked 10,000 steps as a number.

“But is that the right number for any of you in this room? Who knows?”

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“I think apps could definitely be doing more harm than good. I am sure that these apps are causing problems,” he concluded.

“Without any scientific evidence base, how do you know that any of these apps are good for you? They may even be harmful.”

Maybe its time to take up something a little more tried and tested. Yoga it is!