Smartphones, for most of us, are always within reach, and in most cases they have become an extra appendage. Remember the last time you forgot your phone at home and the ensuing panic that followed until you were reunited with it?
Well, a recent study, done by a research team at Kent State University, has shown that smartphones—those amazing devices that we use to text and email, listen to music, watch TV, read, or play video games—may replace the TV as technology’s new health killer device.
In one respect this is rather shocking, as unlike the TV, smartphones are small and portable, making it easy to use while doing mild to moderate physical activity like running on a treadmill or going for a walk.
On the other hand, I guess it was inevitable that when it comes to exercise, smartphones, which can be used for good, are having a negative impact on our level of physical fitness.
The study, which was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, involved over 300 college students from Midwestern schools. They were surveyed on how much time they spent using their smartphones as well as their levels of physical activity. They then took 49 students and did fitness and body composition testing to get further results.
What they discovered is an association between less phone use and greater levels of physical activity. The college students who spent as many as 14 hours a day on their phones tended to have greater body fat percentages, and scored lower on tests of aerobic capacity when compared with their counterparts who spent just 1.5 hours a day on their phones.
The less frequency users felt that their phones motivated them to exercise as it enabled them to connect with other physically active friends.
On the other end of the spectrum, those heavy users, no pun intended, reported that if they were in the middle of a physical activity, the second they heard the hypnotic siren song of their phone they would stop whatever they were doing and be lured back to their phone.
A perfect example of the heavy user mindset can be summed up by what one interviewee in the study said: “Now that I have switched to the iPhone I would say it definitely decreases my physical activity because before I just had a Blackberry, so I didn’t have much stuff on it. But now, if I’m bored, I can just download whatever I want.”
Are you one of those people guilty of being glued to your phone all day? You may be in need of a digital diet. Here are a few ideas to help you practice a little phone restraint.
- Charge your phone in a different room at night so it’s not the first thing you see and do as soon as you open your eyes, said Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet.
- Try not leaving your phone on the table during meals so that you’re less tempted to use it.
- Leave your phone behind when you go to the gym or for a walk or any other time you honestly don’t really need it.
Think you can do it? Do you control your smartphone or does it control you? Let us know in the comments below.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Chan, A., “High Cell Phone Use Linked With Less Physical Activity,” Huffington Post web site; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/11/cell-phone-physical-activity-exercise_n_3574571.html
“High Use Of Mobile Phones Linked With Poor Fitness,” RedOrbit web site; http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112895219/fitness-level-lowers-for-excessive-smartphone-users-071113/
Lepp, A., et al., “The relationship between cell phone use, physical and sedentary activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness in a sample of U.S. college students,” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013; 10:79.
Elejalde-Ruiz , A., “Put the cell phone down,” Chicago Tribune web site, February 13, 2013; http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/health/sc-health-0213-cell-phone-diet-20130213_1_cell-phone-digital-diet-digital-age, last accessed July 24, 2013.