How using a phone while walking slows you down, changes your mood and messes with your posture

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Most of us understand that walking and using a phone can be risky. Some cities, like Honolulu, have even passed laws to rein in distracted pedestrians. But research on those dangers has turned up some surprises.

Dr Giang’s work has looked at the connection between “phone-related distracted walking” and emergency department visits. Using government data spanning the years 2011 to 2019, he and his colleagues turned up nearly 30,000 walking injuries occasioned by phones. While many of those accidents occurred on streets and sidewalks, almost a quarter happened at home. Tripping over something or falling down the stairs is a real risk, Dr Giang said.

Age was one of the major risk factors for phone-related walking injuries, his study found. Young people from the ages of 11 to 20 had the highest proportion of injuries, followed by adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s – perhaps because younger people use their phones more than older people do, he said.

So how do you stay safe? If you want to check your phone, Dr Giang recommended just stopping for a moment – preferably out of the path of other pedestrians.

If you do walk and use your device at the same time, he advised refraining when you’re around stairs, crosswalks and cluttered or uneven terrain – all settings where, according to his research, accidents are more likely to occur.

“Even alert and aware people are injured walking,” he added. “If you’re distracted by a phone, you’re definitely putting yourself at some risk.”

By Markham Heid © The New York Times Company

The article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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