Have you ever been to a yoga class where everyone is constantly refreshing their Instagram, responding to texts, and checking email to see if they're missing anything urgent at the office? If so, it's probably time to find a new yoga studio. For most people, yoga is the one time of day when they have no choice but to store their phone in their bag for an hour or more. For once, it seems like any urgent calls, emails, or texts can wait.
This phenomenon is hardly limited to yoga classes. You'll rarely see phones lighting up in popular cycling studios like SoulCycle, Swerve, and Flywheel, and you can't exactly focus on the latest photos in your Instagram feed when you're in the middle of a sweat-soaked run. So on top of the benefits you're already getting from regular exercise—decreased anxiety, increased flexibility, a stronger heart and lungs, to name a few—you're getting another huge advantage: a much-needed technology break.
Here's what you need to know about taking a smartphone break in the name of exercise.
Restoring the brain by taking a technology break.
You've probably heard that you should keep your smartphone out of your bedroom. This is because the combination of the blue light your phone emits and the never-ending demands your smartphone provides you with—texts! emails! Snapchats! Facebook updates!—can seriously disrupt your sleep.
Sleep aside, smartphones also hinder productivity, decrease focus, and make you less creative. Don't get us wrong, we love our smartphones for the many ways they make our lives easier (thank you for all that you do, Google Maps), but taking a technology break is extremely restorative for the brain.
"Your brain needs rest," board-certified neurologist Ilene Ruhoy tells mbg. "It is restorative to the brain to just know that a message, a post, an email, a call, or a tweet can't find you. It is liberating. It allows your brain to focus on the actual task at hand—and what better task to focus on than exercise? You're strengthening your heart and muscles, improving blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation, and managing your stress. Give it the respect it deserves!"
Missing out on valuable "you" time.
For those of you who do check your phone during your workout, you're not only missing out on that technology break. You're missing out on very valuable "you" time. "Exercise is time for you. It is time to disconnect from the outside world and focus on your mind, body, and spirit," says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo. "Exercise causes biochemical changes that boost your mood and confidence, decrease stress, and can help you feel closer to your true self. Don’t ruin this extraordinary time for yourself by being plugged into others. Instead, plug into yourself and get the benefits that exercise has for you."
Here's an idea: Charge your phone while you recharge yourself. It's a win-win.
The damage technology does to your workout.
All you mid-exercise phone-checkers, here's something alarming to consider: By checking your phone, you could be undoing the many positive benefits exercise provides. "Multitasking during exercise negates the positive effects and may contribute to deficits in concentration," says Dr. Ruhoy. "The time spent exercising is time meant to honor the health of your body, mind, and soul and not think of the outside world."
And just as texting while driving is extremely dangerous, checking your phone during your workout can do more than just make your workout less effective. Especially if you're using gym equipment or running on uneven pavement, concentrating on your phone rather than the task at hand is a recipe for hurting yourself.
Now that you have the facts, do yourself a favor and embrace the unique opportunity exercise provides for a technology break. You'll find you're a calmer, happier person.
For more tips on how to maximize your workout, find out what top runners do when they feel like they can't take another step and check out Lululemon's revolutionary new sports bra.
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