Texting alters the way we walk

Texting while walking was shown to affect the mechanics of the body, leading to increased head movement that can impact a person's balance.
Posted By Ananth Baliga  |  Jan. 22, 2014 at 6:03 PM
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Texting while walking has become a common activity for most of us. But researchers are now saying that it is altering the way we walk and affecting our balance at the same time.

Researchers from the University of Queensland studied the effects of texting on the mechanics of the body in 26 healthy individuals. The study, which has been published in the journal PLOS ONE, asked participants to walk a straight line for 28 feet while doing one of three tasks -- walking without a phone, reading a text while walking and typing a text on a cellphone.

They found that typing a text, more than reading a text, modified the body's movements while walking. In comparison to when they were only walking, participants who were reading texts deviated from the straight line, walked slower and moved their neck more. The deviations further increased when subjects were asked to write a text.

As arms and head moved with the chest to facilitate reading or writing a text, the increased movement of the head impacting balance. These mechanical changes to the body suggest additional safety risks to texting while walking, other than not concentrating and not seeing obstacles on streets.

"Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, on your mobile phone affects your ability to walk and balance. This may impact the safety of people who text and walk at the same time," said Dr. Siobhan Schabrun, in a statement.


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