Take a look around at the gym. Chances are you can’t find one person without their phone in-hand. Now, being that Aaptiv is a mobile app, we’re all for using your phone the right way during a workout. From tracking your progress, to finding a community, to, of course, listening to your favorite Aaptiv workout there are definite benefits to the mobile experience. How else would you stay on track for your ultimate 5K training program, or follow a cycling routine curated to perfection, if it weren’t for your smartphone?
And yet, for all the helpful fitness features your phone holds, there is a major caveat. Your little device can be extremely distracting. With a mere few taps of your finger you can go from being in the zone at the height of your run, to mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed (which can wait until later), or craning your neck to see the next move in your Pinterest printout. This may seem harmless when it comes to the bigger picture, but it might shock some to find out just how detrimental it is to use your phone frivolously while working out.
In hopes of banishing bad habits, we’ve gathered the studies and information for you to see for yourself. In doing so, we encourage you to retire texting (just while at the gym or on the track) and use your dedicated workout time to focus in on yourself.
Text-neck, hunching over your desk—just a couple things that come to mind when posture and technology live in the same statement. Yet, even when you’re completely upright on a treadmill or elliptical, focusing on your phone can put you into a slump. It isn’t difficult to connect the dots. Trying to read that tiny text coming from that small screen is bound to have you in a hunch. If not that, you’re sure to be using at least one arm to bring it closer to your eyes. Both of these physical changes can and will impact any exercise you’re in the process of doing. Likewise, the focus you have now averted to whatever it is you’re reading (Bachelorette recap, anyone?) is going to distract your from properly stacking your spine, or pumping your arms.
Take this study, published by Performance Enhancement & Health, for example. In the study, 45 college students did four rounds of simple posture trials on a treadmill, each time using a different cellphone function. The conditions included a control group (meaning no phone usage), texting, talking, and listening to music. Each participant’s posture was measured on a balancing system.
While texting, postural stability decreased by a whopping 45%, when compared to the control group. Talking on the phone decreased balance and posture by 19% (less by a considerable amount, but still enough to be dangerous).
You Can’t Maintain a Vigorous State
If you’ve ever performed work from a computer or typed up an essay, you’re familiar with the struggle of being 100 percent on it. Maintaining a fast-paced, razor sharp focus becomes undeniably more difficult when you have Netflix open in the next tab. The same goes for using your phone while performing a fitness routine. Much like your posture, your intensity and physical effort begin to decline when your focus begins to drift elsewhere.
This is backed by another study, published by Computers in Human Behavior. It put 32 college age students to the test of performing a 30-minute treadmill exercise—once while texting, the other while not. The test showed that texting creates an environment of distraction meaning a less intense, and therefore less effective, exercise.
How to quit your bad phone habits
Perhaps the temptation was too strong this time around and you’ve already lost your focus. That’s okay! Re-centering yourself—be that stopping in the middle of a run, taking a pause, or resetting mentally—is the next best thing when it comes to staying on track. In fact it’s much better than letting the frustration of losing your place drag you down. Simply stop, take a breath, recognize your current task, and keep moving forward. It’s also a good idea to restart your routine entirely if you feel you haven’t been giving it your all.
Okay, of course. If you didn’t listen to what was going on in “Pure Sweat Mode”, how would you know when Jessica M. tells you to pedal forwards or backwards? But other than keeping an ear out for directions, are you truly tuning in and listening? It’s a deeply ingrained habit for all of us to let our mind half-wander on to other things. Most of us do this while driving. I wonder how Jack’s science project presentation went. What should I make for dinner tonight? Did she text me back? Before you know it, an entire routine has passed you by and you barely remember a single thing.
There are so many inspirational and helpful things said by trainers throughout every Aaptiv workout. Not to mention, the music is just as motivating. Taking advantage of only the bare minimum leaves you with just that—the bare minimum.
Listening could also mean listening to your body. Distractions, like texting, go from bothersome to dangerous when you’re too sidetracked to take note of the physical things. While multitasking is a useful skill, there is a time and place. Keeping the routine, your posture, your surroundings, and signals from the body in mind are enough.
Focus on Your Goals
Short-term, long-term, and everything in between, working out with intention makes focusing on anything else seem far less paramount. You came to the gym, park, or trail with a goal in mind is checking your text messages going to help you in achieving it? Or will it waste your time and compromise your results? Throughout your workout envision your goals and notice each movement you make. Both of these things are taking you forward. Visualizing, or fitness journaling when you’re not actively working out, is a motivator that will remind you why you should keep on task.
Make it an Appointment
You wouldn’t be caught texting in the middle of a work meeting or doctor’s appointment, would you? Start treating your fitness time as such. It’s an appointment for you, with you.
You’ve already gone as far as to turn your gym-going habit into something you just do. Clearly, making time for yourself and your body is important. Give yourself the respect you deserve by making turning off your buzzy apps and messages something you just do (not to make a Nike reference). That could mean downloading your workouts and turning your phone to airplane mode, or silencing any and all notifications that could come through. This is your time, uninterrupted.
Have other workout tips on tucking your phone away and staying focused? Share them using #TeamAaptiv!