Matthew Parris is obsessed by an unsolicited app which landed on his
smartphone and which, thanks to GPS tracking, is able to tell him how far
he has walked in the past 24 hours. ‘I can’t stop checking, sometimes
every 10 minutes, my average daily distances,’ he wrote in the Times last week. He has discovered, to his pride, that he covers an average of 3 miles a day.
I would beware that app, Matthew. There is a reason why it is
free and why it sneaked itself onto your phone and it isn’t with your
health in mind. It has put itself there so that advertisers can follow
you around. I would be willing to bet that since it loaded itself onto
your phone you have started receiving helpful emails and texts telling you all about the gorgeous pastries for sale at the bakery just up the road from where you happen to be standing, or the happy hour promotion at the pub just around the corner. If you did what that app really wants you to do you would be a balloon.
Just think how much more exercise you could be getting if you didn’t stop every 10 minutes to look at your phone - you might cover six miles. The idea of an iPhone as a health and fitness aid makes me laugh. I feel ill enough obsessively checking my shares (so easy when you have a smartphone in your pocket). A device which started trying to monitor my health would be the end of me. I would have terminal hypochondria.