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Your phone is wrecking your fitness regimen

digital detox

Social media updates, instant messages, email, memes and videos. Our days are punctuated by a seemingly endless stream of notifications. With so many distractions it’s easy to get sucked into this mindless world of scrolling, browsing, clicking and tapping. 

Technology pervades our modern lives. While it offers immense value, it has also reached the point where being hyper-connected can also make us hyper-distracted. Spending too much time connected to your devices can also negatively affect your health, relationships, productivity, and happiness.

We’re all addicted to tech, right?

Digital addiction is real. Research shows that every notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards. These hormonally-driven impulses are what keep us coming back for more, which is why a growing number of experts recommend a regular digital detox.

A digital detox doesn’t necessarily mean complete abstinence, though. Often, merely limiting the time you spend on your devices each day for a short period is sufficient. It may sound easy, but for some people it feels more like a stint at rehab than a simple detox.

The benefits will be worth it, though:

You’ll feel happier

It’s no secret that we use social media as a way to show off our ‘perfect’ lives, or to be more exact, the parts of our lives that make it look perfect – our highlights reel. Studies have shown that regular use of social media leads to anxiety and low self-esteem. You’ll therefore feel so much happier after a digital detox.

You’ll be more productive

Digital devices and the apps we access through them are distractions. It has become a habit to pick up your phone to check for notifications, even when nothing comes through. And with that constant need to be connected, we don’t focus on what’s right in front of us. A digital detox will allow you to be more productive with your time, regardless of how you spend it, just because you’ll be more focused on what you’re doing.

You’ll have more time

Think of all the hours you’ve spent scrolling through feeds, double-tapping photos, watching videos, and clicking on ads. According to a study by Qwerty, South Africans spend an average of 14 hours a day accessing digital platforms, with nearly 70% of weekly activities spent on social media. Imagine what you could do with three extra hours a day!

You’ll be more sociable

Have you noticed the number of people staring down at their phones at the dinner table? Are you one of them? We’re so connected to our devices that we have become disconnected with everything else, including the people sitting right in front of us. See your bestie in real life, not via her insta-feed! Taking a break from your device will allow you to reconnect with others, build relationships and have meaningful conversations. Who knows, you might just like it.

You’ll be healthier

Your excuse as to why you haven’t exercised in a week might be that you are too busy, but how are you spending your time? With more time on your hands, you’ll be able to focus more on your health by exercising every day and prepping your meals. And even if you’ve been working out, not having access to your phone during your workout will allow you to be more present, focus more and challenge yourself during your workout.

You’ll be more present

With no tablet, phone or laptop to distract you you’ll be more present in the here and now. When last did you go out for coffee and instead of staring down at your device, paid attention to your surroundings, or the taste of your favourite blend? In fact, when last did you simply look up to notice the scenery around you and take in the sights and sounds?

You’ll think more

With access to any resource 24/7, we get used to not having to think for ourselves. If we have a problem, the first thing we do is hit the net for a solution, right? Being disconnected will allow you to think for yourself instead of relying on your device for an answer.

You’ll sleep better

Wherever we go, our devices go with us and our bed is no exception. Research has shown that browsing the web or social media just before bed has an adverse effect on the quality of our sleep. You’re stimulating your brain when you should be shutting down for the day. The same goes for picking up your phone as you open your eyes. Is that really the best way to start your day?

Being mindful of the time you spend on your phone and focussing on your priorities, might just open up a whole new world where you find time to do the things you ‘never find time’ for. 

Written by Mariska du Plessis

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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