Walking with a smartphone affects the way you walk and your mood
Spend time on any crowded sidewalk and you'll notice heads bowed and eyes cast downwards. a recent Study College students found that a quarter of people crossing intersections were glued to a device.
“I don't think people realize how much they are distracted and how much their situational awareness changes when they walk and use a phone,” said Wen Jiang, assistant professor of engineering at the University of Florida. The association between phone use and walking injuries was examined.
In fact, our devices may cause what some experts call “needless blindness.” One Study found that participants were half as likely to notice a clown on a unicycle while walking and half as likely to notice a clown on a unicycle while talking on the phone – a cheeky touch.
But the screen in your hand isn't just distracting you. It also alters your mood, your gait, and your posture – and hinders your ability to get from point A to point B without any trouble.
How a phone sabotages your progress
When we walk and use the phone at the same time, we obviously adjust our gait, Dr. Giang said. video footage of pedestrians Has shown People talking on the phone walk about 10 percent slower than their non-distracted counterparts.
“You see a lot of changes in gait that reflect slowing down,” said Patrick Crowley, a project manager at the Technical University of Denmark. who has studied Biomechanics of walking while using a phone. “People take smaller steps and spend a longer time with both feet on the ground.”
These changes may increase traffic on sidewalks. And if walking is a big part of your daily physical activity, going more slowly could have an impact on your fitness, said Elroy Aguirre, assistant professor of exercise science at the University of Alabama.
Looking at a smartphone while walking – as opposed to standing straight – may also increase The amount of weight or force placed on the muscles of the neck and upper back can contribute to “text neck” symptoms. And Research In Gait & Posture magazine There are suggestions that all this can reduce balance and increase the risk of stumbling or falling.
How does it affect your mood
When scientists want to study stress, they often ask people to perform several tasks simultaneously. This is because multitasking is a A reliable way to de-stress people,
There is evidence that walking while using a phone works in a similar way, even if we are not aware of it at the moment. an experiment found The more people used their phones while walking on a treadmill, the more their levels of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, increased.
A study of 2023 The psychological effects of walking in an outdoor park while looking at a phone – or not – were examined. “Generally, when people go for a walk, they feel better afterward, and that's what we saw in the phone-free walking group,” said Elizabeth Broadbent, one of the study's authors and a professor of health psychology at the university. Of Auckland in New Zealand.
“In the groups that followed the phone, these effects were reversed,” he said. “Instead of feeling more positive after walking, people felt less positive – less excited, less happy, less relaxed.”
He and his study co-authors attributed these negative effects to a reduced connection with the surrounding environment – it is now widely accepted that walking in natural spaces is good for your mental health. “It appears that to get these benefits, it is important that your focus is on the environment rather than your phone,” she said. He adds, it's also possible that walking and trying to use the phone is simply annoying, and that's why it ruins your mood.
Dangers of Distracted Walking
Most of us understand that walking and using a phone can be risky. Some cities, such as Honolulu, have even passed laws to crack down on distracted pedestrians. But research into those threats has revealed some surprises.
Dr. Giang's work has looked at the association between “phone-related distracted walking” and emergency department visits. Using government data from 2011 to 2019, he and his colleagues found nearly 30,000 walking injuries caused by phones. While many of those accidents occurred on roads and sidewalks, about a quarter occurred at home. Slipping on something or falling down the stairs is a real risk, Dr. Giang said.
Age was one of the major risk factors for phone-related walking injuries, Their study found, Young people aged 11 to 20 had the highest proportion of injuries, he said, followed by adults aged 20, 30 and 40 – perhaps because young people use their phones more than older people. , They said.
So how do you stay safe? If you want to check your phone, Dr. Giang advised just stopping for a moment — preferably away from the path of other pedestrians.
If you walk and use your device at the same time, he advised avoiding stairs, crosswalks, and when around cluttered or uneven terrain — all settings where, according to his research, accidents are more likely to occur. Is.
“Even alert and aware people get injured while walking,” he said. “If you're distracted by your phone, you're definitely putting yourself at some risk.”