Karl Henry: Be warned - your smartphone is ruining your workout
We've all seen them: people glued to their phones at the gym - leaning over the cardio machines in order to catch up on their favourite Netflix drama, or drooling over the newest fitness porn clip from one of the fitness bloggers on YouTube and Instagram. 'Fitness porn', you ask? These are professionally edited videos cut to emphasise specific body parts while working out, where lighting and editing are employed to portray the bloggers in the best way possible.
Other gym-goers struggle to position their phones to record their session or exercise, so they can post their moves on social media to show everyone just what they have been doing, and garner as many likes as possible.
Is the phone ruining your workout? For the people outlined above, the answer is undoubtedly, yes.
There was a time when exercise was a form of escapism, a mental and physical workout on which you focused absolutely. Exercise was productive, increased wellbeing and made you uncontactable to others. Now exercise is just another area of your life into which others have been given access.
Without a doubt, phone use creates a negative component to your workout. Poor form, posture and technique can all be results of staring at the screen.
Recent research from Washington State University found bending the head at a 60 degree angle to look at a phone or iPad screen puts 27kg (4 stone) of pressure on the cervical spine, which is the part of the spine above the shoulders. This pressure is bad enough when encountered sitting at your desk but even worse when incurred while exercising.
The study found that such phone use puts two to five times more pressure on your neck than if you were looking straight ahead in a neutral position.
If you do insist on using a phone or tablet in the gym, then at the very least try to get the screen to eye level.
This will help you to safeguard your back, shoulders and neck - areas of the body in which so many people complain about having pain. It could save you a lot of money in physio therapy in the future.
Not only that, but when your eyes are on your Kindle or iPad screen, you aren't really focusing on the workout. Proper training requires that you focus on the task, so leave all the other distractions behind and allow yourself to be in the moment.
Your workout is your time away from the world, for you. It's not done for likes or others' approval. This week, challenge yourself to just leave your phone behind, put your thoughts and your concentration into the workout.
The only place a phone and headphones should have in exercise is in providing music. I love to run with music to enhance my session and it actually makes me run harder and faster. The key is to keep your phone on airplane mode. Music can help you to improve all of your workouts, increase your speed, your step count, your rep count and your calorie burn too. Create your playlist and let the music help you to get into the zone.
Health tip of the week:
With our thoughts turning to outdoor exercise, irishtrails.ie has details of routes and trails all around Ireland that are waiting for you to enjoy.