Are you an exerciser that needs some sort of distraction, whether it’s music or a podcast, while working out? Then you should listen to this.
New research suggests that auditory or visual ‘distractions’ – like listening to your iPod or favourite podcasts – can increase the risk of leg injuries.
To be fair, the evidence isn’t too shocking. Logically, the more we have on our mind while working out, the less careful we are with correct form, mechanics, stuff in the way, or even how hard we’re really working. But, this is the first time research was conducted on distracted runners vs. focused ones, which really quantified the findings.
In the trials, University of Florida researchers had 14 experienced runners jog on a treadmill three different times. The first run had the runners watching a screen that flashed arbitrary colours and letters; the second had runners listening to different people speaking; the last had them focused, with no background noise or visuals. In both distraction tests, runners had to pay attention and recite letter-colour or word-voice combinations.
The research team found that when the runners were distracted, more force was applied to their legs, and at a quicker rate. They also documented heavier breathing and higher heart rates in the distracted runners.
While the results have been presented to the Association of Academic Psychiatrists in Las Vegas, there’s no peer-reviewed scientific journal to date. To be fair, the scientists didn’t look exactly into whether these distractions would lead to sports injury, but feel it’s highly plausible considering their findings.
Of course, sometimes background noise and distraction is unavoidable. And sometimes, you just need that Rocky playlist to get you through a particularly grueling workout. Just be wary of piling on all those sights and sounds at once, says lead author Daniel Herman, MD, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.
“For example, when running a new route in a chaotic environment such as during a destination marathon, you may want to skip listening to something which may require more attention—like a new song playlist or a podcast,” said Dr. Herman in a press release.
In short, make sure you’re mindful of your exercise surroundings, and give your workout the attention it deserves.