Although walking and texting may seem like a natural thing to most of us, especially younger people, it actually can be dangerous, and interfere with your ability to recall information.

We already know about the hazards of texting while driving, but who thought about the dangers that are involved in walking and texting? Not only do people walk into things when their attention is tuned into their phones, or walk in front of a vehicle, but their ability to retain what they are reading is also in jeopardy.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York did a case study of young people who are walking and using their cell phone to send text messages. They observed 32 men and women in their 20s, who used their cell phones while doing other activities. They were evaluated as to their walking abilities, using a baseline test. Each volunteer was shown a target on the floor several feet away and asked to walk to the target, which was obstructed so they couldn’t see the target or the floor. They then were to stop when they reached the target. This exercise was repeated three times. Measurements as to the amount of time and the position where each stopped were taken each time.

One week later the subjects returned. Once again they were asked to take a walk with their vision obstructed, except for the ability to see a cell phone. One third of the group completed the task the exact same way as they originally did; one third completed it while talking on a cell phone; the other third completed the task while texting.

“We were surprised to find that talking and texting on a cell phone were so disruptive to one’s gait and memory recall of the target location,” said co-author of the study and Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Health Technology and Management at Stony Brook, Eric M. Lamberg, PT, EdD.

The researchers observed that the time it took to walk the baseline blindfolded for those using a cell phone to call or text was significantly slower than when not handling the devices. There was a 33% reduction in speed for those using the cell phone while texting, and a 16% reduction in speed for those using the phone to call. In addition, those texting while walked went off course 61% more often, and stopped short of, or past the target 13% more often.

According to Lamberg, walking may seem automatic, but the portions of the brain that control executive function and attention necessary for walking are definitely affected. “The  significant reductions in velocity and difficulty maintaining course indicates cell phone use and texting impacts working memory of these tasks,” he said.

“We are using the findings to help physical therapy patients improve true functional walking while making them aware that some tasks may affect their gait and/or certain aspects of memory recall,” said Dr. Lamberg. Patients are relearning “real world” activities, and the use of a cell phone while walking is one such activity that they are likely to engage in during their recovery process.

Lisa M. Muratori, PT, EdD, study co-author and Clinical Associate Professor in Stony Brook’s Department of Physical Therapy, reports that the study is also being used to help neuroscientists understand the underlying mechanisms that would cause the difficulty in multi-tasking while performing the dual-task of walking while using a cell phone.

 Muratori and Lamberg believe these results show significant insight into the effects of multi-tasking while using mobile devices. They feel that finding the cause of this disruption may open up the discovery of new physical therapy treatment interventions and modifications in technology – such as voice-activated texts – that could reduce the potential dangers of walking while multi-tasking.

The results as preliminary, and the authors acknowledge the need for further studies with larger and more varied populations. This study was reported in the online edition of Gait & Posture.



About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at



The Jerusalem Post – Dangers of Walking and Texting at Same Time Exposed: