Gym etiquette is clear: Get off your cell phone, dingus. For most of us, the gym is the place where we can get away from work, and disconnect from our phones. Leave them in the locker room is the best way to focus on the workout. People who spend time on their cell phones never get a truly effective workout. Don’t believe that? You can’t argue with science.
A study from Hiram College made it clear that talking or texting on your cell phone could ruin your workout. Specifically, it will decrease the intensity of the training, leading to a reduction in heart rate and energy expenditure. As a bonus kick in the pants, it could also affect your balance.
A 2016 study showed that texting and talking could negatively affect balance during everyday activities. Time spent on the phone can impact postural stability, leading to balance problems. Being on your cell phone while working out, running, or walking can throw off your posture, increasing the risk of falling or injuries.
And, if you’re so focused on your phone, there’s no way you’re going to be able to push yourself as hard as you possibly can. Even taking just a minute or two to talk or text between sets will drop your heart rate, which means you’ll burn less energy per hour than you would if you blasted through your workout in one go. The result: less effective workout, and a greater risk of injuries.
Make no mistake: cell phones can make your life easier. A smartphone provides you with an easy way to listen to all your music and audiobooks, read your books, or even watch TV and movies while you work out. Many people use their phones for entertainment while on the treadmill, elliptical machine, or exercise bike.
But if you’re serious about doing a full-on workout—especially a resistance training workout—it may be time to unplug from your phone. Talking or texting during your workout will throw off your balance and posture and decrease the intensity of your training. You’ll see less visible results from the time you spend at the gym, and you may end up spending more time training because you’re taking a break to talk or text between sets.
Consider a non-phone alternative: MP3 player, iPod, iPad, or some other device that allows you to entertain yourself while you train without distracting you from the workout. For a truly effective training session, it’s better to unplug and focus on what you’re doing.
1. Michael J. Rebold, Cody A. Croall, Emily A. Cumberledge, Timothy P. Sheehan, Matthew T. Dirlam. “The impact of different cell phone functions and their effects on postural stability.” Performance Enhancement & Health, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.peh.2016.11.004.