HOME ARCHIVE2016

Stepping it up with a phone app that counts your steps is not all that simple

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

An app on my smartphone can track my steps and what I do all day – how much I move around, and, in general, how active I am.

I just found it. It’s like that fancy watch that I used to have, except the watch also tracked the heart rate. Sort of tracked it, anyway. I read a report that it actually gives an inaccurate reading, but they’re working on it.

The problem is that the phone is on my hip only at certain times, and the watch stays on my arm, so it can count every step. The phone only counts them when I have it on me. When I leave it in the car, or on the coffee table, the phone counts zero steps, even though I am still moving around.

The other Sunday, it counted only 400 steps, while the goal was 10,000. That could be disheartening if it were correct. But the phone spent most of its time on the coffee table. It was Sunday. I don’t go everywhere with a phone on my hip.

“Are you still alive?” The app asked me. I hate a wise app.

I know that I probably took at least 500 steps. That’s still bad, but the football playoffs were on, so I had an excuse.

Who decided that the average person needs to take 10,000 steps, anyway? That’s a lot of steps. I had the phone with me on a Tuesday, when I walk around most of the day, and only got up to half of that. But, the phone did stay in the car while being charged, so it must have missed a bunch of steps.

When I run on the treadmill in the gym, it just counts each running step as a step. A lot more effort goes into a running step than a walking step, though. When it detects running, the phone should credit me for about three steps for each running step. That would be fair.

If you go running and have a dog, enjoy staying healthy together. But put the phone on the dog. That way, it will give you double the step count and make you feel better. I’ve never done it, so let me know if it works.

Heart rate? I don’t need a watch to tell me that it’s time to stop running and walk for a while. I can tell. I can read my own mind, and it is telling me that if I don’t stop pushing it, there will be some bad things happening, like I’ll get really tired.

A while back, I saw a woman lot older than me on the treadmill, who was running non-stop for about an hour.

She was there when I arrived, and finally stopped. I managed to look at the treadmill’s readout. She stopped at five miles.

That made me think that I should increase my efforts, since this much older person is leaving me in the dust.

Then she came, back to the treadmill. She just went to get a drink of water. Nothing like getting schooled at the gym.

That woman wasn’t wearing one of those fitness watches. She was old-school, and knew exactly what she was doing and for how long. Come to think of it, she didn’t have a phone app either, but that would have cheated her out of steps.

I like to put the phone on the treadmill and watch a show on it or read an article while exercising. But that way the phone won’t register my steps.

So, I’ll have to estimate. Let’s see. The phone says 1,500 steps, but I was reading an article, so the correct number of steps should be – 10,000. We’re done for the day.

There are some advantages to just estimating.