Yes, your close friend, your constant companion, your giver of directions and restaurant recommendations, your pal the smartphone, could be responsible for making you more sedentary.
According to an article in International Journey of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity from way back in 2013 (how did I not hear about this??), high cell phone use, at least among the college students the researchers studied, lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and lower cardiorespiratory fitness.
I can see how this is true. Instead of just having a TV at home to veg in front of, we now have a little TV in our pockets or purses at all times. And it’s not just a TV—it’s a video game, a gossip magazine, a party planner, a radio broadcast, and a way to email all our other friends who are also bored. In other words, it’s the ultimate time-waster.
Phones can help with fitness
There’s a bright side, though. When the students who were more active (who happened to use their cell phones less frequently) did pick up their phones, they were using them to communicate with peers who wanted to go out and participate in recreational activities, thus making them move their bodies. In other words, it’s possible for your phone to help you be even more active, if you let it.
Some ideas for letting your phone help, not hurt, your fitness level:
- Monitor how much time you spend on your phone. I recently downloaded an app called Moment, which tracks how much time per day you spend on your phone. You may be surprised at how often you’re looking down at that glowing rectangle, and having that information could be what you need to get yourself to put it down more often.
- Make a point of using your phone to increase your physical activity. Download a running app or step-counter app. Use it to text friends who have expressed interest in going for a hike or playing basketball. Use the phone to your advantage.
- Stop looking at your phone at the gym. Yeah, I know, it’s fun to read or play games to distract yourself from the torture of the treadmill, but it’s not helping you. If you really need something else to be going on, listen to music or download a podcast. It will help pass the time but allow you to still push yourself.
- Put down your phone! Leave it in the other room. Put it away where you can’t see it. Silence it, turn off notifications, do anything and everything you can to prevent it from constantly distracting you. Phones can be addictive (literally!), but you can take steps to make them less tempting.
I know, I know, smartphones are a part of modern life, and for the most part, they’re good to have around. Just beware of using them to avoid stuff that will make you healthier, and instead use them as a tool to improve your life.