App-y days are here to stay if you're brave and embrace modern technology

Young athlete looking at phone and smiling at park during sunset. Smiling young woman checking her s

Walking and fitness apps can be a great help to your health, especially in lockdown, says Christine Webber - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Once upon a time, I went to a Victoria Wood night of comedy. It was marvellous.

One of her themes was about driving, and of how she didn’t much like it and worried about her poor sense of direction.

Then she told us that she’d encountered a huge traffic jam on her way to the theatre and had got out of the car and asked a passing stranger for help.

This chap had gone into great detail about an alternative route and had gone over and over his instructions to make sure she had grasped them.

Victoria thanked him. Got back in the car. Started up the engine and said to herself: "I’ll just go the way I know."


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That phrase got the biggest laugh of the night.

I know an author who’s always under pressure, because he’s invariably late when delivering articles and books.

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But he always says: "I have to do it like this. I need to be up against a deadline. That’s when the words flow and when I write my best stuff."

But is he right about that?

Has he, in fact, ever tested out his theory by writing and submitting a piece early just to see if he can, and if he feels good about it, and that it’s up to scratch?

No, he has not.

So, he stays with his usual method and continues to stress himself out, as well as all the other poor people who are waiting in their newspaper or publishing offices for his words of wisdom.

It’s understandable in a way. Change is difficult, even if we know it’s desirable, because we feel more comfortable sticking with how things are.

My particular pet hate – the one I reserve for most of my resistance – is embracing new technology.

Now, I’m not exactly a technophobe – after all, I have a website, I run a Zoomed coaching practice with clients scattered across three continents and I make my own podcasts.

But for all that, I have an inherent anxiety about it all.

So, it’s a major upheaval when I have to buy a computer, mobile phone, Kindle, or TV.

And of course, I do have to do that from time to time because no gadget lasts for ever.

But I dread having to start again with something new because I know that, until the particular bit of kit becomes familiar, there’s bound to be a lot of head scratching, and screaming along the lines of: "Why the hell do they have to change everything?"

Selective focus. Concept photo.

Apps have come in to their own over the past 12 months, says Christine - Credit: Getty Images

I also have an almost allergic reaction to the word ‘app’. And if I’m ever on the phone to a utilities company or a bank and they say: "Have you considered downloading our mobile app?"

I hear myself respond loudly and firmly: "No, I’m not interested, thank you very much indeed," before they’ve even completed the question.

I blush to tell you this because I realise it’s irrational.

After all, judging by the name, WhatsApp is an app. And where would we all have been for the past year without using it to chat to friends, family and colleagues? I can see I’m being ridiculous.

So, the good thing is I’ve given myself a stern talking to this week and have overcome some of my normal reservations.

I’d become concerned that my fitness levels might have dipped over the past year.

And as I spend my life talking and writing about being as active as possible for as long as possible, this would be bad news.

Quite apart from everything else, I know that taking routinely robust exercise should help me delay the onset of immobility and a wide range of illnesses including some forms of dementia.

I haven’t been totally idle because I’ve done loads of Zoom and You Tube classes but, because they require less space, I’ve tended to opt for Pilates and yoga rather than dance or anything aerobic.

More: How Christine reduced back pain during lockdown

This means I’m nicely stretched and toned but probably haven’t been outside enough, or regularly increased my heart rate sufficiently to be really fit.

The obvious activity for me – living in Suffolk as I do with a number of footpaths within 200 yards of my front door – is walking. So, I decided that basically I just needed to do much more of that, and to do it briskly.

And guess what, I found there are apps which can help. And I downloaded one to my mobile, and it counts my steps, translates them into kilometres or miles and calculates the calories I’ve used.

Even better, it’s easy and free to operate. I expect you all knew about such things, but I didn’t.

I never thought I’d say this, but I love my app because it’s giving me the help and inspiration I need to push myself harder.

We’re readying ourselves for a brave new world. And lots of us want to make changes so we can embrace it thoroughly. So, let’s fight the reluctance and resistance in our minds that hold us back.

There’s probably an app to help with that!

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