Phone Down and Fitness Up: Tread Carefully With Your Phone

You might be surprised to learn that mobile device use can impede your workout.

Posted May 04, 2017

Source: Pixaby

Spring is here; soon it will be summer! While most of us don't want to admit it, we would like our bodies to be beach ready. If you are planning to hit it the gym more as the weather warms, try leaving the phone in a locker. You might be surprised to learn that it can impede your workout.

Most of us realize that working out saves our sanity, increases our self-esteem, and has many health benefits. No matter how athletic you are, finding something to move your body and getting your blood flow up can have substantial physical and mental positives. It also elevates your mood and sometimes makes your home a happier place for all. Bet you didn't think there was a screen time link here, huh? 
Research by Lepp et al. (2013) supports the link between cell phone use, physical activity, and sedentary behavior. After controlling for other known variables correlated to fitness, there was a significant negative relationship between total daily cell phone use and cardiorespiratory fitness. Thus, the research shows that higher users are significantly less fit than those who use their phones less. These results indicate that cell phone use can be a harbinger of lower cardio-respiratory fitness and greater sedentary behavior. Further research even shows that cell phone use during exercise can reduce the intensity of exercise. In other words, your phone can't make you sweat! When comparing high and low cell phone users with similar amounts of physical activity, the higher users could be impairing the intensity of their physical activity (Barkley & Lepp, 2015).

Don’t expect to finish projects when you are in between reps or answer emails during a hike. Larger projects should be done or completed during non-physical hours. Remember—Hide the Phone: If there is nothing urgent, stick it under your mattress, bury it in your gym bag, and turn the ringer up high for those emergency phone calls. Your primary care doctor will be happier when the time comes for that yearly check up.


The author would like to acknowledge Fairleigh Dickinson University Ph.D. Student, Sylvia Ryszewska for her collaboration in research.


Lepp, A., Barkley, J. E., et al. (2013). The relationship between cell phone use, physical and sedentary activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness in a sample of U.S. college students. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical 32 J.E. Barkley, A. Lepp / Computers in Human Behavior 56 (2016) 29e33 Activity, 10, 79.

Barkley, J. E., & Lepp, A. (2015). Cellular telephone use while walking significantly reduces average free-living walking speed. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 47(5S), 726e732.