With so many technological advancements that help us boost our health, it seems there is an app for everything. We have nutritional trackers, meditation apps, sleep trackers, and period apps, via Hello!. We can set our cell phones to remind us to drink more water, get up from our desks, get some steps in, or even take our vitamins.
Runners and walkers can track their distance and speed, how many calories they burned, and which routes are taken. You’ll never get lost because a quick check of Google Maps will redirect you to the right path. On the way home, you can check out a recipe app to plan dinner.
There’s no doubt that our phones have become thoroughly indispensable. Approximately 97% of Americans own a cell phone, per Pew Research Center. Yet, cell phones can be bad for your health and when it comes to exercise, they may actually be the one thing that is ruining your workouts.
Fitness expert Bree-Anna Burick from BarBend says our phones are greatly hindering our workouts in ways that we may not even notice.
Balance is everything when it comes to weight training or even simply running on a treadmill. If you don’t have the right balance you may not execute a lift correctly and if running, you may topple off a treadmill.
“Using your smartphone a lot can slow down your overall reaction time. If you’re spending your rest time on your phone, you might be less coordinated when you go for a heavy clean and jerk,” explains Burick. She says that texting and exercising is the worst offense and can worsen your balance by up to 45%.
Another way relates to our quality of movement. You may go into the gym and lift the same weights, and do the same sets until it feels almost robotic, but that can negatively affect your workout. Doing purposeful and focused movement is what will result in better and sustained progress, per Hustle Fitness.
Even if you manage to retain your balance, you may be getting a less effective workout when using your phone. Perhaps it’s become your routine to text your friends during the low points of your high-intensity interval training (HIIT). While it may help pass the time, it can also force you to extend your downtime without even realizing it. Then your HIIT is lost.
One of the advantages of HIIT is that it’s supposed to let you do more work in less time,” says BarBend‘s Bree-Anna Burick. “But if more of that time is spent on your phone than on the gym floor, it can affect your progress.”
Relying on your phone too much can also impact your overall heart health. Since scrolling mindlessly while you stare at your phone often involves keeping still, people who use their phones the most may be more prone to high blood pressure, via Michigan State University.
Burick agrees and says, “Frequent smartphone users are more likely to choose sedentary activities related to their phone — scrolling through social media, perhaps — than performing physical activity, which can negatively affect cardiorespiratory fitness.”