Fitness Expert Reveals The One Thing That Might Be Ruining Your Workout

Whether to track progress, seek workout inspiration or to take gym selfies for establishing and enforcing accountability—a smartphone is a must-have workout essential for many gym goers.

However, research suggests that mixing your sweat sesh with screen time might be doing you more harm than good. Especially, if you tend to text or talk over the phone while exercising.

Below, certified fitness instructor Bree-Anna Burick from BarBend reveals the four major ways in which your smartphone might be ruining your training session:

  • Impaired balance and stability: “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,” says Burick. This is especially the case if you’re texting while exercising. “If you find yourself texting or talking on the phone while exercising, studies suggest that your posture may become more unstable, which can worsen your balance and stability by up to 45%. So whether you’re walking on the treadmill or walking outside, you can increase your risk of falling while talking or texting on your phone,” notes the fitness expert.
  • Lower intensity workouts: There’s nothing wrong with a low-intensity workout, but if all of your training sessions are starting to feel a bit easy, there may be a problem. “Using your smartphone during your workout can increase the time spent at a low intensity, whereas not using your smartphone can increase the time you spend at a high intensity. This is especially important to keep in mind if your time in the gym is limited,” says Burick. “Yes, you want to take some rest even during high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—but taking too long can transform your HIIT workout into a regular session,” she adds.
  • Reduced cardiorespiratory fitness: “Frequent smartphone users are more likely to choose sedentary activities related to their phone, like scrolling through social media, than performing physical activity, which can negatively affect cardiorespiratory fitness,” says Burick. In addition, if you do strength training, you may be taking walks to keep the intensity of your cardio work low but effective. If that’s the case, smartphones might get in your way, Burick points out. Moreover, “excessive cell phone use has also been linked to higher blood pressure. So shutting off your phone might be helpful for locking in your cardio health,” she adds.
  • Impacted movement and range of motion: “Even if your smartphone isn’t directly in your hand, you may be hearing the ping of a text message or seeing a notification light up your screen. Thus your screen lighting up can be just as distracting as actually checking your phone,” says Burick. “These seemingly harmless interruptions might actually reduce your movement and range of motion in your elbow and shoulder flexion and extension. This can lead to a less efficient workout overall, which isn’t optimal for maximizing your gains,” notes the fitness trainer.

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