LOS ANGELES, CA - Older generations complain that we are always on our phones these days, but could that be saving our lives? Stanford cardiologist Alan Yeung is using our smartphones to embark on what some are calling the most ambitious study of exercise in history. He will not only count our steps but also how we move- including our velocity and our orientation in space.
The study is just a year in and the results are already causing a stir.
Yeung reports that America's "couch potato" lifestyle may be worse than we thought. The data shows that not only are many Americans not exercising, they're barely moving.
"This was a surprise," Yeung said. "A lot of people are spending most of their time sitting around -- not even standing, not even going up and down."
With over 100,000 participants in this study, researchers have only been able to process a fraction of the data. Eventually, they hope to answer such questions as: Does a person need to exercise daily, or is it okay to be a weekend warrior? Are brief, high-intensity workouts just a fad, or do they actually work?
Project co-director Euan Ashley, head of Stanford's biomedical data science initiative explained, "We know exercise saves lives. What we don't know is what is the right dose."
Exercise isn't the only thing they can track. Other apps in the study can target Parkinson's through your device's touch screen and a series of finger taps. Another is able to register how your child reacts to a video to detect autism.
It looks like there really is an app for everything. While there is still much to learn, let's all get off our couches and start moving towards answers!
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