Smart, but Risky, Phones

Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS

Smartphones are one of the marvels of modern technology. When used to play music or as an activity tracker, phones can be a great complement to your workout program. But, there may also be several reasons to leave your phone in the locker. Research suggests that too much use of a phone may pose an accident risk and may even decrease workout intensity.

A recently published study investigated the effects of different smartphone functions on postural stability and workout intensity.1 45 participants were asked to walk on a treadmill at low-to-moderate intensity without an extra device and then while in three different smartphone-enhanced conditions: texting, talking, and listening to music. During each session, postural stability was assessed using a Biodex Balance System SD, an elevated platform that measures static and dynamic balance, and intensity was monitored via perceived exertion questionnaire.


Postural stability was significantly negatively affected when texting or talking, with texting being the worst, while there was almost no difference in the music and control conditions. Furthermore, participants professed to feeling as if they were working at a higher intensity while texting and talking, despite the load being the same across all conditions. Researchers theorized that these effects, which could result in increased risk for injury and decreased exercise performance, were due to the division of attention to dual tasks.

While previous research has shown that listening to music can increase exercise intensity and enjoyment, other means of phone usage may have the opposite effect and can even be an injury risk. Get your playlist ready beforehand, but for best results, save the rest of the screen interaction for after your sweat session.


doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.

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