Today’s smartphones allow for increased opportunities for
activities traditionally defined as sedentary behaviours, such as surfing the
internet, e-mailing and playing video games. However, researchers Jacob Barkley
and Andrew Lepp, faculty members in the College of Education, Health and Human
Services at Kent State University, linked high cellphone use to poor fitness in
How the study was
Barkley and Lepp were interested in the relationship between
smartphones and fitness levels because, unlike the television, phones are small
and portable, therefore making it possible to use them while doing physical
activity. But what the researchers found was that despite the phone’s mobility,
high use contributed to a sedentary lifestyle for some subjects.
More than 300 college students from the Midwest were
surveyed on their cell phone usage and activity level. Of those students, 49
had their fitness level and body composition tested. The researchers’ results
showed that students who spent large amounts of time on their cell phones – as
much as 14 hours per day – were less fit than those who averaged a little more
than 90 minutes of cell phone use daily.
One subject said in the interview data: “Now that I have
switched to the iPhone I would say it definitely decreases my physical activity
because before I just had a Blackberry, so I didn’t have much stuff on it. But
now, if I’m bored, I can just download whatever I want.”
The study is believed to the first to assess the
relationship between cell phone use and fitness level among any population.
Barkley and Lepp conclude that their findings suggest that cell phone use may
be able to gauge a person’s risk for a multitude of health issues related to an
The study appears online in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.