Can cell phone usage make college kids unhealthy?

Can cell phone usage make college kids unhealthy?

You may use your smartphone to track weight loss, find exercise routines or to use the latest fitness app, but researchers from Kent State University found that college students who are avid phone users are the opposite – having poor fitness habits.

The study, published online in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, found that the accessibility of a cell phone attributed to an unhealthier, sedentary lifestyle for some.

Lead researchers, Jacob Barkley and Andrew Lepp, surveyed more than 300 students in the Midwest about their cell phone activity with 49 of them being tested on their fitness and body composition. They found that those who spent a lot of time on their phones (some up to 14 hours a day) were less fit and those who spent a significantly less amount of time (up to 90 minutes) had a much more active and healthy lifestyle.

This study is said to be the first of its kind to look at the relation between cell phones and physical activity levels. Researchers hope this information may lead to more research on the risks of future health issues stemming from inactive lifestyles.

Dr. Dory Jarzabkowski, cardiologist with Advocate Medical Group, says even short bursts of activity during the day can be beneficial. Doing something is better than nothing. Walking is an easy way to work exercise into the daily routine.

“There are several ways to sneak walking into your routine without it feeling like exercise,” she says.

She offers up the following tips for college students:

  1. Take the long way to class or to your dorm room.
  2. Instead of grabbing coffee with a classmate, ask them to take a walk around town or on campus.
  3. On weeknights and weekend mornings, instead of sitting on your phone or in front of the television, get a group of friends to take a walk together to chat.
  4. When running to the grocery store or another stop, park as far away as you can and walk briskly to your destination.

“Any way you can add steps to your day, will pay off in better health,” Dr. Jarzabkowski says.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.