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Texting changes the way we walk: Walkers swerve and slow down while texting

Date:
January 22, 2014
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Texting on your phone while walking alters posture and balance according to a new study.

Texting on your phone while walking alters posture and balance.
Credit: Monkey Business / Fotolia

Texting on your phone while walking alters posture and balance according to a study published in PLOS ONE on January 22, 2014 by Siobhan Schabrun and colleagues from the University of Queensland.

Sending text messages has become an increasingly popular form of communication, but little is known about how sending text messages impacts our lives. Scientists studied the effect of mobile phone use on body movement while walking in 26 healthy individuals. Each person walked at a comfortable pace in a straight line over a distance of approximately 8.5 m while doing one of three tasks: walking without the use of a phone, reading text on a mobile phone, or typing text on a mobile phone. The body's movement was evaluated using a three-dimensional movement analysis system.

Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, modified the body's movement while walking. In comparison with normal walking, when participants were writing text, participants walked slower, deviated more from a straight line and moved their neck less than when reading text. Although the arms and head moved with the chest to reduce relative motion of the phone and facilitate reading and texting, movement of the head increased, which could negatively impact the balance system.

Texting or reading on a mobile phone may pose an additional risk to safety for pedestrians navigating obstacles or crossing the road.

Dr. Schabrun added, "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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Siobhan M. Schabrun, Wolbert van den Hoorn, Alison Moorcroft, Cameron Greenland, Paul W. Hodges. Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e84312 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084312

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Texting changes the way we walk: Walkers swerve and slow down while texting." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122202209.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2014, January 22). Texting changes the way we walk: Walkers swerve and slow down while texting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122202209.htm
Public Library of Science. "Texting changes the way we walk: Walkers swerve and slow down while texting." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122202209.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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