Many medical professionals believe that smartphones are, in general, bad for our health. But, just like any tool, it’s more to do with how you use smartphones than it is about the objects themselves. Cellphone radiation aside, there’s nothing that your smartphone can do to you that can hurt you if you don’t allow it.
In this article, we’re going to look at the good, bad, and ugly effects of smartphones on your health. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Heart Rate Monitors
Research suggests that the lower we can get our resting heart rate, the better. When scientists correlate resting heart rate with overall longevity, they find that once people get their HR down to around 60 to 65 beats per minute, they maximize their chances of survival. People with lower resting heart rates are more likely to avoid disease and live long and healthy lives. Great.
And what’s more, your smartphone can help. Samsung, for instance, offers customers HR monitoring through its S Health app. All users have to do is fill out a few details about their health and age, and the app will do the rest for them.
Being able to monitor your resting heart rate over time is essential, especially if you’re trying to bring it down. Eating foods high in nitrates and doing aerobic exercises can help to bring pulse down over the long term.
The NIH recommends that people get around 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. Unfortunately, most people don’t get anything like that much, and certainly not the recommended 150 minutes per week.
Fitness tracking, however, can provide both the motivation and guidance for people looking to become more active. The great thing about fitness tracking is that you can clearly see how your performance changes over time. Let’s say that you have a particularly good week on the diet front: a fitness tracking app allows you to see your increased performance while out for a run or in the gym. It’s a great technological tool that helps incentivize some people to push harder to achieve better overall health.
Voice-Activated Emergency Telephone
If you’ve been involved in an accident and are unable to use your hands to call the emergency services, then voice-activated emergency service dialing can be a lifesaver. There are all kinds of anecdotes of people trapped in car wrecks calling out to Siri and asking her to make a call to the emergency services on their behalf.
But it’s not just Apple that provides this high level of functionality: Google Now voice activation also enables you to call emergency services too, without having to touch your device at all.
Cheap Fitness Advice
It used to be the case that if you wanted to get fitness advice, you had to consult with a professional or try to work it out yourself. But today, thanks to online trainers and cheap data plans, it’s never been easier. You can get an unlimited plan with £25 Amazon voucher and hook up to an online trainer for a fraction of the price. Online trainers offer things like exercise instruction, meal prep advice, and help to change your mindset. Often, you can get better service through your smartphone than you can by hooking up with a trainer at your local gym.
Smartphones Can Cause Problems With Spinal Health
Okay, now for the not-so-good stuff about smartphones. When using smartphones, people have a habit of stooping over, putting their necks out of alignment with the rest of their body. At no time in human evolution were humans so preoccupied with objects in their hands. Stones and pine cones just didn’t have the same allure.
Today, though, that’s all changed. We love looking at our smartphones; they provide endless entertainment and joy. The effects on our necks and spines, though, is quite damaging. Research suggests that when people tilt over to look at their smartphone screens, they put upwards of 28 pounds of strain on the neck and shoulder joints. Doing this just a couple of times a day won’t cause any damage, but doing it repeatedly, hour after hour, can begin to change the structure of the shoulder area, leading to problems.
Smartphones Can Damage The Retina
The retina is a thin piece of photosensitive tissue that sits at the back of the eye and processes incoming light information. It’s a crucial piece of kit that enables you to see clearly and in full color. Unfortunately, it’s also extremely sensitive.
Smartphones churn out a similar light spectrum to the sun. You wouldn’t look directly at the sun for an extended period because the energy of light is too high for the retina to cope with. Similarly, you shouldn’t spend too long staring at a phone screen because, over time, it can begin to damage the retina.
The good news is that there may be a way around this problem: using light filtering apps. These apps cut out harmful blue light and allow you to dim your phone below that allowed by the default settings.
Smartphones Can Lead To Relationship Problems
Smartphones changed the way that we conduct relationships with each other, seemingly without anyone noticing. For the first time, anybody with your number could get in contact with you whenever they wanted, with no limitations. Because of this, most people expect their friends and family to reply immediately, even though that never used to be the norm.
For some people, this is a source of stress. Feeling that you continually have to respond to messages, like Instagram updates, and talk to people on Facebook, is a lot of work. What’s more, the expectation that you will respond puts pressure on people to be switched on socially all week long. There’s no time out.
So what’s the ugliest aspect of smartphone usage? Ask most people, and they’ll tell you it’s how the technology has an annoying habit of preventing them from sleeping, leading to conditions like insomnia.
We’re currently living in the midst of the “sleep movement” – the radical notion that to have a healthy and productive society, we need to get more sleep as a whole. Smartphones, however, are seen as the enemy in this matter.
Not only do people use their smartphones to check their emails and messages before they try to go to sleep, but smartphones emit the dreaded blue light, which can mess with your circadian rhythm. Blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s time to wake up, changing your hormonal balance, and making sleep more difficult.
There are other complaints about smartphones too, besides their potential for keeping you awake at night. One is the fact that they make ordering junk food so damn easy. All you have to do is fire up your favorite take-out app, click a few buttons, and then wait for your order to arrive on the back of a moped. It’s almost comically simple to gobble up 3,000 calories worth of pizza. And with falling take out prices, you can now afford to do it night after night.
Smartphones have brought a lot of benefits to our lives. For people living in developing countries, they’re even more important, allowing them to access health information, education, and payment services that they couldn’t otherwise get. But, like any new technology, there are positives and negatives. Few people predicted the adverse effects before smartphones became universal, but almost all of them can be negated through a few simple lifestyle choices.