When people say that smartphones can do everything, they really mean it. Think about it: they can remind us of our appointments, take (and edit) professional-looking photos and even tell us which countries in the world are the laziest.
Researchers at Stanford University used Argus, a smartphone app, to collect the number of steps that more than 700,000 people across the world took on average per day. They then ranked countries in order of the least to most inactive to study the role physical activity plays in obesity.
As it turns out, Hong Kong was the most active country, with an average of 6,880 steps per day, while Indonesia was the least active country at 3,513 steps. (If you’ve even been there and seen the shape of the sidewalks and aggressive drivers, you probably have an inkling why.)
So what about us Canadians? Well, we were lazier than expected, tapping in just under the 5,000 steps-per-day mark. Since the standard health goal is to stomp around at least 10,000 times per day, we’re barely passing the exam here. Even most European countries ranked better than Canada.
What’s more interesting though is that it wasn’t just the number of steps the citizens of each country took that seemed to matter in relation to obesity — it was the gap between those who were active and those who were inactive that made a difference.
Essentially, if there was a big gap between those two groups, the country as a whole had a higher rate of obesity. And areas with smaller gaps reported lower levels of obesity.
Not surprisingly, the study also found that cities that were walkable translated into a population that walked more, which could have some sway in urban developments in the near future. If, of course, people in charge of such things listen to these types of recommendations.
In the meantime, considering how sketchy our smartphone trackers can be, and reminding ourselves of the fact that we often forget our phones at home or leave them someplace central while we get up and about, these numbers are certainly flawed. But it does open up the conversation about how to get people to be more active, and shows that walking around really does improve your health.
Now what are you waiting for? Turn off that TV marathon and go hit the hiking trails.