Working Out with Smart Phones

By: Jill Tonne ACSM-CPT, ACE-CPT, ACE-CHC

Smart phones can be a great tool for enhancing your workouts. They can be used to track steps, a quick timer for rest periods or help you take a quick look at proper form of exercises. However, these small devices can also attribute to distractions, safety concerns and overall decrease the effectiveness of your workout. Below are a few ways using your smart phone can actually ruin your workout, and how to combat this issue!

Using your smartphone during your workout may lead to increased rest periods. It seems obvious, and it is! Whipping out your phone in between sets may seem like a good idea to pass the time and keep an eye on the clock, but more often than not most will end up sitting on their device scrolling longer than necessary while waiting. This ultimately is increasing your rest period, leading to less effectiveness in your workouts. Try putting the phone down and having an old school watch to keep you accountable!

Looking at your phone screen during workouts may lead to worse posture. One of the most common postural deficiencies these days are muscles of the neck and upper back. This can be attributed to our mostly forward-hunched, downward-looking positions of our daily life. Leaning forward overall can actually alter the position of your spine, causing kyphosis or more commonly known as “hunchback” if done frequently enough. Remind yourself to roll your shoulders back, relax your neck and look straight forward, especially while at the gym!

It is harder to maintain a high rate of exertion. Think about it- whatever your mind is focusing on, your body will follow. When your focus is on some Twitter-war or Instagram Ad you have directly shifted your focus from actively engaging your muscles to giving all of your energy to what is on the screen. This will make it harder to develop mind-to-muscle connections that lead to greater strength. Try locking up your apps when you get to the gym to keep the intensity of your workout high!

You are more likely to get injured. As a trainer, we are bound to see our fair share of injuries. However, I have also seen too many injuries that could have been avoided by putting the phone down! Falling off the treadmill while texting or dropping a weight on your foot while scrolling are very common injuries. While these may not seem like big injuries, they could definitely teeter your success. Try keeping your phone in a belt or arm band while working out to avoid the temptation to break it out during your workout.

Making time for your body is just as important as making time for your mind. Next time you are at the gym, let it be a time for both! Leave that phone in your workout bag and re-center your focus to your workouts.