Cell phones, though portable, reduce physical activity

Smartphones promote a sedentary lifestyle though they are portable, says new study

Girl taking a picture on her smartphone

Barkley and Lepp,  faculty members in the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University, were interested in the relationship between smartphones and fitness levels. Television is traditionally known to promote a sedentary lifestyle. However mobile phones are different. Cell phones are small and portable, therefore  it is possible to engage in physical activity while using them. But despite the phone’s mobility, research showed that high mobile phone usage contributed to a sedentary lifestyle.

More than 300 college students from the American Midwest were surveyed on their cell phone usage and activity level. Of those students, 49 had their fitness level and body composition tested. The results indicated that students spending huge time with the phone [as much as 14 hours per day]  were less fit than those who averaged around 90 minutes of cell phone use daily.

One subject said in the interview data: “Now that I have switched to the iPhone I would say it definitely decreases my physical activity because before I just had a Blackberry, so I didn’t have much stuff on it. But now, if I’m bored, I can just download whatever I want.”

The study is  the first to assess the relationship between cell phone use and fitness level among any population. Barkley and Lepp conclude that their findings suggest that how much time a person uses his/her smartphone  may be a predictor for a number of health issues related to an inactive lifestyle.

The study appears online in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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