How Your Phone Sabotages Exercise, Heart Health

Photo by blvdone / Shutterstock.com

Here’s an easy way to step up your exercise and improve your heart health: Put away your phone while walking.

Talking and texting while walking slows down your pace, according to researchers at Kent State University. That slowdown is negative, they say, because a higher walking speed helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

Their findings were recently published in the journal BMC Research Notes.

For the study, researchers from the university’s College of Education, Health and Human Services anonymously observed and timed more than 1,000 people who walked alone along a 50-meter — or about 164-foot — stretch of walkway on the Kent, Ohio, campus.

The researchers categorized these pedestrians as either texting, talking or not using a phone. They excluded pedestrians who used their phones for only part of the 50-meter walk.

The researchers found that:

  • Pedestrians who were texting walked 7.4 percent more slowly than the pedestrians who did not use their phones.
  • Pedestrians who were talking on the phone walked 11.3 percent more slowly.

Kent State notes that the researchers consider these differences to be what they call statistically significant — “considering that increased walking speed has been shown to increase cardiovascular fitness.”

Additionally, these findings support those of a prior study by the same researchers that found texting or talking on the phone while walking on a treadmill similarly slows a person’s pace.

The researchers conclude their article:

This suppressed walking speed is worrisome as average walking speed has been shown to be a strong negative predictor of [cardiovascular disease] risk. While more research is needed we would advise against cell phone use during free-living, active-transport walking as it may diminish the health benefits of this activity.

Do you text or talk on the phone while walking? Let us know how you think it affects you — leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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