The Trouble with Walking and Texting

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Last updated April 12, 2019

Walking and texting at the same time can affect your ability to walk, according to a new study.  Researchers from the Stony Brook University report that texting or talking on a cell phone while walking makes it hard to walk in a straight line and slows you down.  Preliminary research involving men and women in their 20s found that their walking speeds were as much as 33 percent slower when texting and 16 percent slower when talking on a cell phone.  As well as this, texting while walking saw a 61 percent rise in lateral deviation during walking, which in turn added to the total travel distance.

The findings, which were published in the online version of the journal Gait & Posture on the 5th of January, suggests that the use of new or old cell phones for talking or texting have an effect on the working memory of areas of the brain.  These areas control executive function and attention, which are necessary for walking, Eric Lamberg, the co-author of the study, claims in a press release.

“We are using the findings to help physical therapy patients improve true functional walking while making them aware that some tasks may affect their gait and/or certain aspects of memory recall,” says Lamberg, who is a clinical associate professor who works at the School of Health Technology and Management’s physical therapy department.