If you think cell phones are everywhere these days, it’s probably because they are. Just take a walk down the street, or eat in a restaurant, or go to a party. Pretty much anywhere you go, someone will be busy on their smartphone calling a friend, texting, playing games, or checking e-mails. Smartphones are certainly convenient, but they may also having an adverse effect on our health.
A new study out of Kent State University shows that people who use their cell phones the most tend to be less fit. While today’s phones are small and easily carried wherever we go, they’ve led to a more sedentary lifestyle for many people. The study shows that cell phone users who spent up to 14 hours per day on their phones had low cardiorespiratory fitness compared to those who were on their phones for only 90 minutes a day.[/right]While cell phones are convenient, the handy content that’s now at our fingertips means people don’t have to go far to find entertainment, whether it be watching a video or getting the highest score. As Nu Skin points out in its blog, smartphones also provide a distraction that might keep people from exercising. Many experts agree that if you want to burn calories while at the gym, put away your phone.
Smartphones are hurting us in other ways as well. Another study out of Finland shows that cell phones can ruin our ability to focus. Many people find it difficult to resist the temptation to check their phones every few minutes, even if any new information can wait until later.
All that constant checking can lead to other problems, in particular a condition doctors at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary are calling “Computer Vision Syndrome.” Patients have reported dizziness, blurry vision, headaches, eye soreness, and other unpleasant effects. Doctors put much of the blame on staring at the small screen for long periods of time.
Cell phones also have the tendency to carry nasty germs. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since the devices are usually in contact with our hands, ears, and mouth. This can easily spread germs around, so wherever our phones go, the germs are sure to follow.
Frequent smartphone users may also be the victims of another kind of diagnosis: Phantom Vibration Syndrome. That’s where you get the feeling your phone is vibrating, when in reality nothing is happening. The strange syndrome is actually quite common; around 90% of undergraduates have reported phantom vibrations according to one study.
Some effects of cell phone use are much more serious and frightening. Researchers in Sweden say using smartphones too much can lead to disturbed sleep and even depression. The scientists say frequently checking your cell phone for work-related texts and emails often blurs the line between your work life and home life, which can take a toll on mental health.
The solution to all these different health problems seems to be the same: limit your smartphone use. If you can keep the texting to a minimum and not stop to check your phone every five minutes, many of these problems should have minimal impact. Learning to live without a smartphone could very well lead to a much healthier life.