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Can your smartphone save your life?

Sitting: it's a deadly habit.

Don’t believe me? One recent study showed that too much sitting was linked to a 7% higher risk of death over 3 years.

In fact, some academics now estimate that diseases linked with prolonged sitting kill as many people as smoking worldwide. 

It's a scary thought.

Technology has advanced over the centuries to save people effort. Now digital technology of all kinds has made it harder than ever to leave our seats. It's got to a state where the average UK citizen now sits for nearly 9 hours each day. And while TV has been around for decades, the likes of Netflix let us binge-watch to obscene proportions. Despite this, there's never been a better time for technology to help us re-engage in physical activity.

The digital tech activity revolution is here

Games console technology really spearheaded the charge towards using digital technology to better our health. Gamers have always tended to be sedentary (sit a lot), and the likes of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have felt duty bound to keep players a bit fitter so they can keep playing for more years. Remote sensing and its smart algorithms have, in recent years, driven a tangible revolution in getting players off the couch. X-Box Kinect Sports to Wii Fit are using simple nudge techniques to turn a potentially lazy activity into an active one.

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 by giving you 300 exercises that won't cause people to stare.

Outside the working environment, some of the simplest of functions of smartphones can help you get active. Urban and rural walks have been gamified and socialized with the Geocaching app, which uses simple GPS location finding.

Stepping up the pace, apps like RunKeeper can calculate your running or cycling speed, route, distance, elevation and calories burnt. They can also help you create training plans and audio coaching. You can even turn running into a game with apps like Battlesuit Runner and Bulldash - or even raise cash for a good cause with Charity Miles.

Wearable wonders

Wearables were the big Christmas gift of 2015. Tech like the Jawbone and the FitBit enable people to keep track of their activity (or inactivity) at a glance at any time. Added to that, wearables seamlessly nudge you into getting active. For example, Jawbone, Apple Watch and FuelBand all have activity apps that remind you to move.

Wearables are great at nudging us to do more, but they’re rather easy to ignore or switch off. The next two years will see an era where the software catches up with the funky new hardware to create some real must-have applications, to go with the funky design and the luxury one-upmanship.

The StepJockey difference

Most health technology is aimed at people who already have the inclination to exercise. Most have sporty designs and a certain sweaty appeal. Inactivity apps will get people moving momentarily but can rapidly become irritating.

StepJockey works because it provides a simple but healthy indoor activity that almost anyone can do. By using environmental cues at people's points of decision, StepJockey nudges unavoidably away from power-hungry lift journeys to beneficial stair use.

Using unique gamification technology, StepJockey research shows the technology can get 800% more people using the stairs than would normally do so. Each journey expends a moderate amount of calories and has a range other health benefits.

What's next for fitness technology?

There are now dozens of ways that tech is being developed to incentivise anyone to move more. But there's definitely more to follow both in terms of the hardware - second generation wearables - and software.

We're likely to see a change of direction in design - moving from an era of motivational apps, towards apps taking control of our digital devices and forcing us to move to unlock certain functions, settings or products.

There's no high-tech quick fix to our addiction to sitting. But tech will continuously evolve to produce smarter systems to get us up and out: climbing higher, running faster and fighting fitter.

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