I work from home, and my step-counter doesn’t like it

Kudzai Kuzakwawo Avatar

I have this to say about having worked in retail for the last 8 years: quite literally, I was always moving. Walking from one end of the shop to the other, running for customers, lifting, packing and unpacking. On average, Pacer, my step-counting app recorded 12000 steps or thereabouts daily.

Suddenly I find myself doing not just a desk/office job, but one for which I do not have to leave the confines of my homestead. One day, and this day is yesterday, my step count was 112. 112!!

In my view, this is one of the major pitfalls of working from home. There is no motivation to get up and go. Finding myself in this predicament has me assessing my lifestyle. I am hard pressed to explain why I haven’t been active lately. It isn’t that I don’t want to or I can’t or that I don’t at least have some tools to help me. I do. I can. And there are plenty of ways to get back on my feet.

The Devil Is In The In-App Purchases

One of my workmates uses a Huawei, and swears by their built-in fitness app. ‘It’s got a heap of data. There is no stat that I can’t find there except stats that require external sensors,’ he says. I like the sound of that, almost makes me wish I had a Huawei. I would love to know forever all the distances I’ve walked and run, which hikes I’ve gone on, what my weight was two years ago, what my average running speed was back then and if my athleticism has improved at all over a certain period of time. It’s flexible too, he says, so he can link it to Google Fit, Google’s health app. That means he won’t lose his data if he should ever switch from the Huawei to another phone, which I doubt because he waxes poetic about that phone. He also says It’s ‘pretty darn accurate’ on the steps. 

Another of my workmates also has nothing but praise for Google Fit, especially because he will be able to migrate his data between phones. Having moved from Endomondo to Runtastic a few months ago, I completely understand why it would be such a major consideration. I am building my profile from scratch even though I have been relatively on the go for more than two years now.

The ‘right’ mobile fitness app is the best kind of friend, they keep us honest by telling us what we’ve done, and more importantly, what we haven’t done. The ease of access automatically translates to flexibility when it comes to work-outs. I don’t have all the time in the world, but I do have a little more now that I’ve eliminated commutes to work which I have observed can chew up sometimes up to 3 hours of a person’s day.

 I can sing the apps’ praises but I absolutely abhor how they will sell you a dream and then try to give you what you really need, like meal plans or workout schedules, for a fee. No thanks! I only like free things (and I live in Zimbabwe so not all of us have credit cards). Nike Fitness is the exact opposite, in my experience. (Sidenote, yes, I have test-driven A LOT more than is reasonable of these apps). Like all the other apps, Nike Fitness needed to know my gender, age, current weight, height and lifestyle. I then set a goal for myself – for instance how much weight I wanted to lose (if that’s the case) and a timeline for this goal. It then devised the appropriate workout schedules to help me achieve these goals. (Why are squats the solution to everything??) It also once told me that the goal I was setting for myself was unreasonable. Well, at least you can be sure you’ll get the truth from it, right?

The Gym Nevership

I paid for a few sessions with a personal trainer at a gym once, then suddenly found myself unable to wake up, get there, train, shower and get to work on time. Gyms are certainly good for all the equipment they have, but, Covid-19 has altered the very fabric of this kind of activity.

So I’ve found a Youtube account called Fitness Blender. It’s like going to the gym, but it lets you maintain what little dignity you have by letting you sweat and grunt in the comfort of your home. One might need to invest in a mat, and maybe dumb bells, depending on which workouts one will pick. But there are many that require no equipment whatsoever, starting from beginner level sessions to fitness buff-type exercise sequences. Fitness Blender is akin to your trainer: cheering for you with each exercise; telling you how you should breathe; and checking that your form is correct. Most sessions have both warm-up and cool-down as well as rest during the sets. I only had to do this once before I clicked ‘subscribe’.

Consistency Is The Word

We have become guilty of making the word exercise synonymous with burning fat and weight loss. While in most cases this is highly likely the goal of a person seeking to stay active, there are other equally important benefits that must not be forgotten:

  • Exercise boosts metabolism especially as we grow older
  • Minimises the risk of heart disease, a condition particularly prevalent in black men
  • Triggers the release of endorphins, the ‘human morphine’
  • Helps with mental agility – both for learning or for work
  • Increases blood flow which in turn improves skin and hair growth (I’m looking at my naturalistas here)
  • Aids people dealing with mental health issues, especially depression

Walking (or Running) the Talk

So now that I have made the monumental mistake of sharing my musings on the interwebs, I find myself compelled to do as I say, no longer as I have done. If we’re going to use our phones and our computers and our tvs for everything else, why not also use them to keep ourselves healthy? Lace up!

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What’s your take?

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  1. KT

    Great article! and yeah, we’ve become slaves to these apps! I like my Nike Run Club app for recording my runs. At first I didn’t like it cause I thought it gave me less kilometres than I actually ran but now I trust it so much. I reckon it’s because it’s become a trusty friend. I also wear my fitbit when I run and I don’t really like the fitbit app. I hate that I have to turn on my bluetooth after each run and let my phone detect the fitbit device in order for the data to sync – I guess it’s because I have a problem of immediate gratification which the Nike Run Club app immediately satisfies – no sync required.

    1. Kudzai Kuzakwawo

      Your not trusting the app in the beginning, does that speak to you becoming more accustomed to exercising, and as such, the runs being less taxing?
      And thanks for the feedback on the fitbit. I have been dying to get one, but why should I? Does it have any other benefits?

  2. Farai Mudzingwa

    “almost makes me wish I had a Huawei” They’ll send your fitness data to China lol

    1. Kudzai Kuzakwawo

      We’re sending data somewhere all the time anyway!

      1. Farai Mudzingwa

        😂 fair enough

  3. Farai Mudzingwa

    Madbarz is a very good app if you want to work out but you don’t have equipment.

  4. Tonderai

    Wow!!! I can totally relate, even though I don’t work from home.

  5. SP

    I thought working from home meant more time to exercise and workout and do all the nice things I couldn’t find time for when I used to commute to and from the office but the opposite has turned out to be my new reality. Great article. I am personally a Garmin fan.

    1. Farai Mudzingwa

      There’s definitely more time to work out but I think the issue with working from home is if you’re not careful you’ll work around the clock and that eats into your time to do other things. At an office, there’s clearer start and cut-off times

    2. Kudzai Kuzakwawo

      Garmin has always seemed a little expensive. You reckon it’s worth the price?

      1. Anonymous

        Worth every penny. I have a low end device but i can track my activities on gps for over 11hours straight.