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The impact of smartphones on health and fitness

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Looking Good, Feeling Great

Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Wednesday, 21st September 2022, 09:40

A successful professional body builder was asked what the secret to his training success and results were. His answer was, “Social media. Between each set, I always make sure I take photos and videos and post to the ‘gram!’”

Despite the great service they provide, one of the reasons I will probably never go back to training in a commercial gym is to avoid people who spend more time ‘posing and posting’ than they do actually training.

While I’m the first to admit I’m not social media savvy, there is no doubt that it has made a huge impact on the health and fitness industry, from creating celebrity trainers, to promoting products and training methods.

Overall, the impact has been positive, but there are also a fair few negatives. Advances in technology have created some incredible gadgets, including smartphones and apps.

A necessity for many for work and play

Current mobile technology can be considered similar to a Leatherman multi-tool in the way they provide individuals with a variety of multi-functional benefits that have made smartphones a necessity for many people for work and play.

Technology has also become a huge asset in the health and fitness world – just look at the hundreds of apps on offer both for free and for a fee. You’ll find everything from calorie counters and heart rate trackers, to virtual personal training platforms and other income-generating features.

Smartphones also allow people to connect with each other from anywhere in the world – I took part in a virtual bootcamp with friends in South Africa during the pandemic, for example.

While excessive smartphone usage is unhealthy, they provide a variety of positive tools to support your health and fitness goals. The most important, in my opinion, is music! Many people use mobiles to listen to music or podcasts while they work out. It can motivate or help divert attention away from the ‘pain’ associated with working out, as long as the volume remains at a safe level and allows you to hear potential risks.

Other important uses for mobiles include timers for HIIT, allowing you to set work and rest intervals, making for a safer and more effective workout. There’s also the ability to capture and track valuable statistics such as food tracking, measuring heart rate, calorie counting, sleep tracking and activity tracking.

But lack of focus through multitasking, including posting on social media, is not uncommon. Mobile use while exercising can be extremely dangerous – the distraction while working out not only reduces your ability to give maximal effort, but could cause an accident or injury.

Not only do mobiles prevent you from putting all your energy into the workout, but they can also negatively impact your mental health by preventing you from detaching from your daily stressors.

They can have negative impacts on your workout

Additionally, the mental-emotional pressure of social media creates false realities and unrealistic views of what healthy body image should be. Poor sleep quality, poor posture and reduced performance due to brain fatigue are all ways in which excessive smartphone use can negatively impact your workout.

As we witnessed during the pandemic, virtual training via smartphones enables freedom to work out anywhere, through access to fitness all over the world via online platform and fitness apps. A smartphone can provide huge value to your fitness routine when used properly, but despite its many benefits, smartphone addiction may be detrimental to the social, psychological and physical health of a society.

It would be well worth conducting a self-audit to determine how smartphones can play a healthier role in your pursuit of your fitness goals.

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