Could the cure for sitting disease be a download away?

Now here’s a use of modern technology that I can really get behind…

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine recently completed the first-ever randomized clinical trial to be performed entirely digitally. The goal was to see if a smartphone app could encourage people to exercise more.

And if it all sounds too simple to be true, just wait until you get a load of their results…

A little reminder goes a long way

Let me start with the good news and fill in the blanks from there: Turns out, even a single daily ping on your phone is enough to boost your physical activity significantly.

And now, that’s a clinically proven fact. Researchers used an app developed by Stanford scientists called MyHeart Counts, which made its debut in 2015 as a means to track exercise and other key details like heart rate.

A year later, the app provided a vehicle for this trial’s subject recruitment and consent as well as the actual interventions. Researchers followed more than 1,000 users—about 500 of whom ultimately completed the trial.

Interventions included one of four simple strategies:

  • Encouragement to take more steps
  • Hourly reminders to stand up
  • Instructions to read American Heart Association health guidelines (a dubious choice, but that’s a whole different conversation)
  • “E-coaching” that sent daily prompts based on individual lifestyle habits

Subjects received a new intervention every week. And in the end, the rise in step counts added up to a ten percent increase in physical activity. Which may sound small… but it’s absolutely significant, especially considering how little it took to achieve.

I’ve talked about some of the risks that excessive smartphone use can have for your health before—in particular, where your sleep is concerned. But the fact is, these little devices are here to stay.

So it’s encouraging to see that they’re just as capable of doing some good in the fight against diabesity, too.

I may not be able to convince everyone to join a gym. But downloading a smartphone app is something that anyone can do in seconds—often, for free. And if that’s enough to get you off your couch and on your feet ten percent longer every single day, then I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a smarter use for your phone than that.

P.S. The holiday season is in full swing, which means you may already be thinking about your New Year’s resolution for 2020. But as I’m always telling you, most resolutions end up failing miserably.

So in addition to the added support from a smartphone app, I discussed a month-by-month approach on how you can hold true to your resolution in the January 2019 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“2019: Your year to refresh, refocus, and reset). If you haven’t already, consider becoming a subscriber today. Click here now!


“First entirely digital clinical trial encourages physical activity.” Science Daily, 10/09/2019. (