Update from Italy: An Open Letter to LG Health

Anyone else in quarantine feel like strangling their FitBit? Photo by Sem Hovingh on Unsplash

My LG phone has a fitness app, branded LG Health. It’s basically a Fitbit or Google Health, tracking steps and stairs per day. I guess the LG software updates didn’t push out anything pandemic-related, even though LG is based in South Korea, where they’ve taken a few lessons themselves from the novel coronavirus. Today is Day 35 of a nationwide quarantine in Italy (Day 40 for us since we took the soft announcement rather more seriously than millions of other people). Restrictions might slowly, ever so slowly, be lifting tomorrow. The app continues to remind me, in cheery chirps, how much exercise I am not getting. I have grown weary of it, and now frustrated, with this clueless, careless little voice.

Are you taking a little break? Well, LG, it depends on your definition of ‘little break.’ Does it include being in a fourth-floor apartment for more than 35 days in a row? Does it account for national decrees and uniformed polizia in our piazza below, yelling at people to drop off their trash and get back inside subito? Have your testers ever worn a face mask? While necessary, it poses a genuine hindrance to breathing fresh air. That air does not smell fresh.

Right now, I’ll be honest, a ‘little break’ sounds like 45 minutes getting sweaty on an elliptical trainer. Nothing sounds better than that. I’m not really resting here. My lower back aches from sitting around, even when I try to stay active. I miss my bike and fresh air. I fully understand why we’re in quarantine and I am on board, but it’s not easy, and under no terms would I consider this a ‘little break.’ Maybe think about your word choice. Maybe you should take a little break and come back when you have something less snarky to say.

Increase your activity next week and get fit! Believe me, LG Health, there is nothing I would enjoy more. Can it be next week? Wait … Are you talking to the Italian PM, or the Ministry of Health, or Civil Protection? Tell me, LG Health! If you’re holding out on me, and if you actually know I can get more activity next week, but are just choosing not to tell me right now, so help me I will throttle you the next time I see you, and I will be wearing gym shoes and a sports bra.

Great work! You got 841 more steps than usual so far today. Can it, LG Health. I walked 20 laps around a small garden to get that many. I thought you people spied using my phone’s camera lens. Did you see my zoo-like enclosure?

Get started on the life you want! Again, LG Health, if you know something I don’t know, ‘fess up now and I might not delete you. Also, let’s talk about this concept of ‘the life I want.’ You seem to think you know something about it. But, if you must know, forty days in quarantine have given me plenty of time to think about the life I want. I’d like my daily activity to be less related to feelings of headless chickenhood, and more related to a sustainable rhythm. Even my frantic days, pre-pandemic, sometimes did not clear 1500 steps a day. Sure, I was on my bike, but walking from Home to School to Work is a lot more effort than zipping around on my Bianchi.

The life I want in 2020 might include more appropriate text messages from LG Health, perhaps ‘Ways to Get Exercise Indoors.’ Because 10,000 steps a day is soooo pre-pandemic. And the next time my eyes settle on a sweeping territorial view, I will be so overcome with emotion that I will just stand there, for maybe half an hour, in tears.

Swiss Alps, Interlaken. Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash