Talking on a cellphone or texting while walking slows you down and makes it difficult to walk in a straight line, researchers report.
Their preliminary research included 33 men and women in their 20s whose walking abilities were tested when they weren't using a mobile device and when they were talking on a cellphone or texting.
The participants' walking speeds were 33% slower while texting and 16% slower while talking on a cellphone. In addition, texting resulted in a 61% increase in lateral (side-to-side) deviation while walking, which added to total travel distance, the Stony Brook University researchers found.
The findings, published in the online edition of the Journal Gait & Posture, suggest that cellphone use and texting affect the working memory in areas of the brain that control executive function and attention and are necessary for walking, said study co-author Eric Lamberg, in a university news 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," noted Lamberg, a clinical associate professor in the physical therapy department at the School of Health Technology and Management.
Using a cellphone while walking reflects a "real-world" activity that recovering patients are likely to engage in early in their recovery process, he explained.
(HealthDay, January 2012)
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