A gym buddy calls while you’re on the treadmill to say he’ll meet you tomorrow. Your girlfriend texts to ask about dinner and when you might be over. A news bulletin pings so you check it out, then put it up on Twitter… And all the while, you’re lumbering through a completely half-assed workout.
Yes, it’s official: Paying too much attention to your smartphone during exercise can sap your focus and intensity, slow you down, and even lower your heart rate, according to a study at Kent State U. There, 44 students were put on treadmills for 30-minute sessions to test how talking, texting, and listening to music affected their workouts compared with not using a phone at all.
The stats: Phone-chatting reduced subjects’ running speeds by 10 percent. Texting was an even bigger drag, lowering speeds by 10 percent and heart rates by 5 percent. Listening to music, though, boosted heart rate and upped average treadmill speeds—unfortunately, how many of us can listen to tunes but resist answering calls and texts?
If you’re looking to get the most benefits out of your workout, leave the phone in your locker, says the study’s Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., and get your music from another type of device.