Texting While Walking Affects Posture
The researchers followed 26 subjects given three tasks: walking without a phone, walking while reading and walking while texting. Over a distance of 8.5 meters, the subjects were tracked with the help of three-dimensional movement analysis.
“Although the arms and head moved with the thorax to reduce relative motion of the phone and facilitate reading and texting, movement of the head in global space increased and this could negatively impact the balance system.” The researchers continue “Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, modify gait performance. Texting or reading on a mobile phone may pose an additional risk to safety for pedestrians navigating obstacles or crossing the road.”
Reduced arm swing may account for part of the slow-down say the researchers since the arms usually remain locked to the side while texting. However, the head tends to move more when texting as it shifts from one task to another. This reduces the body’s ability to adjust to the inputs found in the environment.
The message is simple, it’s quite difficult to multi-task and texting can be quite taxing mentally. Other research has even shown it to be perilous as it detracts from attention given to the environment.
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Schabrun SM; van den Hoorn W; Moorcroft A; Greenland C; Hodges PW. Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety. 2014; PLoS ONE 9(1): e84312.
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