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Study Looks At Screen Time Effects On Diet and Activity After Exercise

You wake up, groggily put on some gym clothes, and head to the gym for some light exercise to start the day. In the car, you listen to the latest podcast from Joe Rogan and sip some coffee. Then at the gym, you hop on the treadmill for some light cardio and turn on your favorite YouTube channel or watch the latest news.

Before getting to work, a majority of your exercise involved some form of screen or audio attention. That’s bad for you, right? Interestingly, maybe not.

A new study sought out to explore the idea behind the use of screens and audio as motivational factors in the gym and their relationship with one’s physical activity levels and food consumption throughout the day. Previous studies have suggested that screen time negatively impacts one’s dietary habits (think mindless eating) but that may not always be the case. In fact, this new research showed the complete opposite.

New Screen Time, Energy Consumption, and Expenditure Study

In the recent study, researchers had 24 male teenagers (average age of 15) perform 30-minutes of cardio at 60% of their heart rate reserve under three conditions. These conditions included either watching a screen and choosing their favorite Netflix show, listening to their favorite music/podcasts, or using no stimuli.

Exercise and Screen Time Study
Exercise and Screen Time Study

[How to train for more focus: The benefits of mindfulness in exercise!]

After the exercise bout, researchers offered the participants a lunch and tracked their physical activity level and diet throughout the day. Interestingly, researchers suggested from their results that there were no adverse effects on physical activity levels or energy consumption during or after watching a screen, listening to music, or using no stimuli. In fact, researchers pointed out that watching or listening actually made the exercise bout more enjoyable for those who needed the extra motivation.

Again, there’s a real conception out there that using your phone makes you less mindful, or more mindless, which can cause potential adverse affects on our eating habits and activity levels. This new study is interesting because it’s showing that screens might not always be problematic for either of these behaviors, and may actually help motivate us in the moment to exercise. Although, there definitely needs to be more research done on this topic before any definitive suggestions are made. 

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