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The More You Use Your Cell Phone, The Less Fit You Are? [4 reasons smart phones aren't so smart]

Posted Aug 12 2013 1:52am


 This can’t be real, right? I mean, wouldn’t a rotary phone need to be connected to a wire? P.S. I totally remember using rotary phones when I was kid. I’m that old. I also had a pager in college. I’m that cool.

Mexico overtook the US as the fattest nation on the planet. Scientists finally made good on their promise (threat?) to grow meat in a test tube with a burger built from stem cells. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s doctor extraordinaire, admitted to smoking a joint and endorsed medical marijuana. And – focus, people – the cronut officially overtook the macaron as the new cupcake! (Did that last sentence make sense to anyone but me? I love food fads so hard.) Man, I go away for one week and all the fun happens!

But as I sorted through my six million (yes that’s the exact number) e-mails, press releases and Feedly reader* stories, the news story that really caught my eye was about the problems with cell phone useage. That might have been because I was reading all of this on my cell phone. I’ll admit it: I am addicted to that thing. And I’m not the only one. At my recent family reunion (which was SO fun! Even if two of my kids got diarrhea on the way home forcing me to put them in diapers which forced them scream bloody murder across three state lines) my tech-head brother insisted we all put our cell phones face down in the middle of the table while we had an hour of Quality Family Time. The first person to pick up their cell phone had to buy pizza for everyone else. My dad lost. It took about 30 seconds. (Joke’s on them though: My cell was completely dead! Because I’d already used it so much that day! So… take that!)

It turns out that smart phones may not be so smart. And it’s not just quality family time that suffers. (For a really poignant post about the consequences of trying to raise young kids with an iPhone, check out this beautiful piece by Hands Free Mama. It actually started its own movement.)

1. They make you weak.

A recent study by Dr. Andrew Lepp of Kent University found a significant negative relationship between cell phone use and physical fitness. People who didn’t use their phone much (defined as about 1.5 hours/day) way out-performed people who used their phone a ton (defined as about 14 hours per day). Dr. Lepp explains, “One important finding from our study is that the ever-present cell phone, with all of its temptations (streaming video, internet, Facebook, email, texting, games, …) seems to encourage sedentary behavior and reduce physical activity.”

(Side note: The table in the report showed that the average study participant sent nearly 300 text messages a day. And I thought I texted a lot! Seriously, college kids? Seriously?)

2. They give you cancer.

Turns out your paranoid friend who refuses to use a microwave and only wears organic cotton might not be as kooky as you thought. At least when it comes to cell phones and cancer. In a new study done by the University of Tel Aviv scientists compared the saliva of people who used their phones 8 hours of more per month (per month? I might do that per day. Oy.) with deaf people who never used cell phones and found evidence of “higher oxidative stress, a major risk factor for cancer”, in the saliva of cell phone users. Gonna be honest, I’m not exactly sure what they mean – are they measuring cortisol? If so, there are plenty of other variables that could cause the stress hormone to skyrocket. Like living in Tel Aviv, for starters. But according to the people who know such things, this is the first study that definitively links cancer to cell phones. I tell you what: Imma get cancer of the right butt cheek if this is true.

3. They mess up your sleep. 

Red light, green light! Any light but blue light! At least when it comes to sleep. Researchers from Ohio State University found that the color of light you are exposed to at bedtime has a significant impact on your mood. Hamsters exposed to blue light had the worst depressive-like symptoms, with white light being the next biggest bummer. Do you know what emits lots of blue and white light? Cell phone screens! (And computer/TV screens. I’m screwed.) The fun finding however is that red light seemed to boost the little rodents’ joy meters. So turn off all the screens at least an hour before bedtime and then stare lovingly into your laser pointer** as you slip into sleep. (True story: I had an alarm clock as a kid that had red numbers on the display. That thing freaked me the heck out. I thought it was the devil staring at me. I begged my parents for a blue-light one. Maybe THAT explains all my issues!)

4. They cripple you.

There’s no science here but I can tell you that since I got my smart phone, my right hand gets painfully crampy from all that swiping action. It hurts. Sometimes so badly I have to do finger calisthenics. Feel bad for me. And of course there’s the study showing that the more time people spend on social media, the worse they feel about themselves. I might be emotionally crippled too.


 Phones can’t be all bad! Jelly Bean and I amused ourselves for half an hour taking funny-face selfies! I can see up your nooooose!

Commence Rationalizing

But! I would like to point out that I do use my phone for several active activities! I have Run Keeper on my phone and even though it’s horribly inaccurate and tells me I’m running depressingly slow, I still use it sometimes. I also have Fit Day, Map My Run, Tabata Timer, P90X, Gym Pact and My Fitness Pal apps on my phone – all of which I use with varying consistency. Also, as of this writing, my right butt cheek is no bigger than my left one. Although it’s hard to tell from this angle. Last rationalization: I neeeeed my phone. I’d die (literally, in a ditch) without my GPS app. Having that camera handy means I take way more snaps of my cute kids than I would if I had to find my real camera. It’s my tether to my family – my kids’ school can reach me anytime. It’s my safety net – we don’t even have a home phone anymore. I need it for work. Important e-mails, new assignments, interview time changes. Plus, how would I ever find my way in the dark? And all of that can’t wait until I’m home to check my computer!

Or can it?

I think I might have a problem. Hi, my name is Charlotte, and I’m addicted to my smart phone.

What’s your philosophy on cell phone use? Any tips for me on how to use it more moderately? How much do you use your phone? What fitness apps do you have that you love? Anyone tried a real cronut yet?!?!


 Plus, I used my phone for the very righteous purpose of snapping this shot of the adorbs vintage dress I found on my vacay! Yes, I just used this as an excuse for a gratuitous dress shot. 

*Since Google killed off my beloved Google Reader, I’ve switched to reading blogs in Feedly . And, dare I say, it’s way better than Reader ever was! So if you’re still reader-less, definitely check them out! Love!

**Don’t do that.

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