A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Human enforces our natural tendency to move

I own an iPhone, but I certainly don’t exploit its app capabilities. Give me Spotify, Instagram, and The New York Times and I’m pretty satisfied. I am also a health nut, however, so I’m all about health apps. Recently I discovered Human, an activity-tracker app. This nifty creation encourages frequent movement throughout the day and lets you compare your active minutes with that of other people in the area, or specific friends you request.

This seems boring, but think about it. Recent studies have revealed that excess time spent in a sedentary state (sitting, lying down, etc.) can reduce a person’s lifespan by as much as 2 years, not to mention increase irritability and bad temperament. Frankly, most of the time it’s pure laziness that keeps us stationary. In the short and long run, that can lead to major problems.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this: just get up and move. Human helps with that. If you’ve been sitting for too long, Human sends you a nice push notification to remind you to get up and go for a walk. That walk could even be a trip to the drinking fountain and back, or it could be a five mile run, or anything between or beyond. So long as you move enough to get at least thirty minutes of activity, you’re good. If you have a Fitbit, you can link it to the app, therefore eliminating even the necessity of carrying around your phone in order to track your active minutes.

Here’s another thing I love about this app: you can customize how much you need to move. The default setting is 30 minutes a day, but if you’re like me and feel like 30 minutes is a walk in the park (ha ha ha) then you can raise the bar to 60, 90 or 120 minutes. Especially as we’re looking for those “summer bods,” getting an extra handful of active minutes in a day is a subtle way to achieve this.

There are a few drawbacks about Human that will hopefully be fixed in future updates. It gets a bit lagged in updating your active minutes, especially when not used over wi-fi. Additionally, I track my intentional workouts through the app RunKeeper (another wonderful fitness app), but Human won’t recognize the time spent on those activities that I log retroactively. Finally, if your iPhone is older than a 6, Human won’t pick up your cycling movement, which is irritating for me as I cycle to school and around town frequently.

In general, however, I’ve found Human to be a motivating and useful app. It’s so simple to accomplish its tasks, and when your daily goal is achieved, the app gives you the virtual equivalent of a high five. If you’re interested in taking little steps to become healthier, this is the app for you.