Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
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Ministry of Silly Walks

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Do smartphones make us walk funny?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Most of us can’t get by without our smartphones.  We watch that screen, even when maybe we should watch our step!

This got kinesiologists at Britain’s University of Bath thinking:  How do people successfully text while walking?  Do we walk differently when we’re staring at our phone?

To find out, the researchers recruited thirty volunteers, ages eighteen to fifty.  Each walked through an obstacle course.  Well, actually a short route where they walked up steps and around mannequins, et cetera.

Each navigated the course three times.  First, walking normally.  Second, walking while texting.  Third, walking while completing a math quiz on an iPhone.

Special cameras fed their movements into motion-analysis software.

Result?  We do walk differently when texting.  We take shorter, less-frequent steps.  We also keep both feet on the ground longer, and step higher near obstacles. 

The researchers say this results in a more cautious gait.  They aren’t sure how much is subconscious behavior.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll google that.  While taking very tiny steps.

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