A fitness expert reveals the one thing that could ruin your workout

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Whether tracking progress, seeking workout inspiration, or taking gym selfies to establish and enforce accountability, a smartphone is a workout essential for many gym goers.

However, research suggests that mixing up your sweat session with screen time could do you more harm than good. Especially if you tend to text or talk on the phone while exercising.

Below, Certified Fitness Instructor Bree-Anna Burick of BarBend reveals the top four ways your smartphone could be ruining your workout:

  • Impaired balance and stability: “Heavy use of your smartphone can slow down your overall reaction time. If you’re spending your downtime on your phone, you may be less coordinated when you go for heavy cleaning,” Burick says. This is especially the case if you are texting during exercise. “If you find yourself texting or talking on the phone while exercising, studies suggest your posture may become more unstable, which can worsen your balance and stability by up to 45%. So whether you’re walking on the treadmill or walking outdoors, you can increase your risk of falling by talking or texting on your phone,” notes the fitness expert.
  • Low intensity workouts: There’s nothing wrong with low-intensity training, but if all of your workouts are starting to feel a little easy, there may be a problem. “Using your smartphone during your workout can increase the time you spend at low intensity, while not using your smartphone can increase the time you spend at high intensity. This is especially important to keep in mind if your time in the gym is limited,” says Burick. “Yes, you want to rest even during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — but taking too long can turn your HIIT workout into a regular session,” she adds.
  • Reduced cardiorespiratory capacity: “Frequent smartphone users are more likely to choose sedentary activities related to their phone, such as browsing social media, than engaging in physical activity, which can negatively affect cardiorespiratory fitness,” Burick says. Also, if you do strength training, you can go for walks to keep the intensity of your cardio work low but effective. If so, smartphones might get in your way, Burick points out. Additionally, “excessive cell phone use has also been linked to higher blood pressure. So turning off your phone can be helpful in locking in your cardio health,” she adds.
  • Impacted movement and range of motion: “Even if your smartphone is not directly in your hand, you may hear the ping of a text message or see a notification light up on your screen. So lighting up your screen can be just as distracting as checking your phone,” Burick says. “These seemingly harmless interruptions could actually reduce your movement and range of motion in flexing and extending your elbow and shoulder. This can lead to a less effective workout overall, which is not optimal for maximizing your gains,” notes the fitness trainer.

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