Can I, Apple Watch? Can I???
Can I, Apple Watch? Can I???
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

App notifications can be helpful reminders to keep moving and maintain your fitness routine—in normal times. These are not normal times.

The hourly alerts my smartwatch sends me to get up and walk around were annoying before social distancing was a thing. Now they’re driving me insane. Is it because these notifications are a clear reminder my gadgets and apps have no idea covid-19 is taking the world by storm? Or is it the indignity that comes with an app shaming me for doing the responsible thing and staying indoors? Maybe I’m just upset that these notifications keep jolting me back to the reality of this godawful timeline.

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For what it’s worth, experts have said you can still go outside to exercise, provided you stay six feet away from other humans and avoid touching your face. Walks and runs have kept me sane as I spent most of my day sequestered in a 550-square-foot studio apartment with my partner and our two pets. But you know what I don’t need? A notification from my Apple Watch telling me that usually my activity rings are much further along by now. Yeah, I know. But even as I rationalize I’m not a Bad Person for continuing to run outside four times a week, it sucks to be reminded that I’m limited to an hour or so a day of stretching my legs.

Yesterday, MyFitnessPal sent me an incredibly rude reminder to “step on the scale and update my current weight.” Um, excuse me. So far covid-19 anxiety has manifested in a 3-pound weight loss, but I’m sure that once I get used to my new reality, I will snack my way to some obvious weight gain. This morning, MapMyRun notified me I missed my 6 a.m. run because working from home has totally messed with my sense of time. I am now wasting precious brain cells calculating the least crowded hours at my local park and trying to calm anxiety that other park-goers might think my cold weather snot and throat-clearing are signs that I’m infected. My building’s gym is closed. Every notification is a painful reminder that I am losing progress on my running goals.

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A quick poll of my coworkers revealed that I am not alone in my fitness app-induced anxiety. Strava has apparently bugged one coworker to start an activity. No, YOU start an activity, Strava. We are currently chained to our keyboards producing content and social distancing. The Samsung Health app shamed another coworker, while several noted their Apple Watches have chided them over unclosed rings.

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I know I can turn all these notifications off. I’ll probably get around to it at some point. But in the meantime, we could all probably use a cathartic, collective venting session.

Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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