health

Bad news: texting while walking comes with some serious side-effects.

OK, it’s time to be honest:

How many times in the past week have you been walking along with your eyes intently focussed on your phone screen, scrawling through Instagram, trying to find the perfect podcast episode to listen to, or writing a message, only to look up and think, ‘Where the hell am I and how did I get here?’

You’ve crossed a road, zig-zagged through peak hour foot traffic and somehow boarded a tram, all without looking up.

texting while walking
We've all been here. Source: Giphy.

I've done it about four times this week, I reckon. And while you and I are not alone in this smartphone age phenomenon, it turns out that aside from being pretty anti-social, it's actually really bad for you physically.

Asking a group of volunteers to dial phone numbers on a mobile phone while walking on a treadmill, scientists at the University of Delaware found all participants exaggerated their gait while holding their phones, all in a bid to compensate for their lack of visual concentration.

Think a weird, stuck-out neck angle, furrowed brow, slouched posture, and a somewhat unnatural tight grip in one of your hands. Or, to use slightly more scientific terms, text neck, screen sightedness and text claw.

texting while walking
No judgment, Obama. No judgement. Source: Giphy.
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Text neck is hardly a new phenomenon - it's essentially an extension of laptop neck, but, you guessed it, even worse. Because while the average human head weighs approximately five kilograms, that weight goes up to a whopping 12 kilograms when you go into text neck mode. So holding that kind of weight at that kind of angle for prolonged periods - not great.

Similarly, staring down at your phone screen for hours on end is also terrible for your eyesight in the long-term.

There's the blue screen, the increase in short-sightedness, the strain of staring so intently and temporary issues like dry eyes and headaches. So if your relationship with your mobile is a strong one, it's highly likely that your next visit to the optometrist will not be an positive one.

texting while walking
Preach Khloe. Source: Giphy.

Finally, there's the claw: a condition that's more nightmare than fun amusement park ride. Spending hours with a device too small for the average hand planted in your palm will lead to long-term cramping and pain in thumbs, wrists arms and shoulders.

So while the experts aren't saying stop using your phone altogether, we get the strong impression that scheduling some put-down time might be in order sooner rather than later.

If for no other reason than to avoid walking into a wall one day...

So for the love of God, stand up straight, tuck your neck in, and restrict your access for at least 10 minutes each day.

Mia Freedman says the secret is to not answer the phone. Or call at all, for that matter. 

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