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Summary:

It is not a surprise that when you walk and text, you see a massive drop in viewing your surroundings, but did you know that when walking and texting or talking on the phone at the same time, your speed of walking declines by 16 percent?

texting-walking

It is not a surprise that when you walk and text, you see a massive drop in viewing your surroundings, but did you know that when are walking and texting or talking on the phone at the same time, your speed of walking declines by a whopping 16 percent? That’s the finding of a study from Stony Brook University, reported in the online edition of Gait & Posture and conducted by Eric Lamberg and Lisa Muratori, who studied 33 participants. In a news release, Lamberg noted:

We were surprised to find that talking and texting on a cell phone were so disruptive to one’s gait and memory recall of the target location,” says Eric M. Lamberg, PT, EdD, co-author of the study and Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University.

Although walking seems automatic, areas in the brain controlling executive function and attention are necessary for walking. Dr. Lamberg says that the significant reductions in velocity and difficulty maintaining course indicates cell phone use and texting impacts working memory of these tasks.

Sure it is only 33 participants and needs more study, but still! While I can understand the texting being a massive distraction — that’s why we’re seeing gadgets that disable non-hands-free smartphone activities while driving — I was amazed at the decline in walking speed.

Image courtesy of Flickr user yumanuma

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  1. Robert Cathey Monday, January 23, 2012

    Om: Did you see this article from the SF Chronicle last November? (excerpt w/link below)

    “The truth is, the smart phone is the low-hanging fruit for roaming thugs. With debit cards in universal use, the average person isn’t carrying much cash. The high-tech cell phone is probably the most valuable item you carry on the street.

    “It’s the modern day purse snatch – with better odds,” said Obrochta. “With a purse, you never knew what you were getting.”

    Victims make it easy by walking down the street, holding out the phone while texting or searching for directions. “First, I am showing you that I have a nice fancy phone,” said Brian Cooley, editor at large for Cnet. “And second, I am demonstrating that I do not have good situational awareness.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/30/BADN1M67G8.DTL#ixzz1kIRgdz6Y

  2. Hey Om — curious, did they measure the difference for type of device? I miss my Blackberry for the ability to walk and text at the same time — viva la keyboard — I’m hopeless with my Incredible2.

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