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Texting shown to change the way people walk

People walk differently, hold their head differently, and deviate from a straight line while texting versus normal walking according to research conducted by Siobhan Schabrun and colleagues from the University of Queensland that was published in the journal Public Library of Science on Jan. 22, 2014.

Oakland Raiders fan text after the Oakland Raiders scored against the Houston Texans on November 17, 2013, at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Raiders won 28 to 23.
Oakland Raiders fan text after the Oakland Raiders scored against the Houston Texans on November 17, 2013, at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Raiders won 28 to 23.Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

The researchers observed the gait, posture, and awareness of obstacles in 26 healthy individuals while the participants walked normally, walked while reading texts, and walked while composing texts for a distance of 30 feet.

Reading a text message and composing a text produced changes in posture, gait, and awareness of obstacles in all participants. The participants walked slower, deviated more from a straight line course, and moved their heads more while texting.

The researchers note that moving the head to the extent that the participants demonstrated could produce a change in the normal balance system provided by the ear. The potential for long term effects does appear to be real but unstudied in humans.

The greatest danger in texting and walking is running into an object or being hit by an automobile. The researchers note that long term walking and texting may present a new medical problem that could produce posture and neck problems.

Texting and walking laws may be the next item on the agenda to protect people from themselves.