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multitasking workout

Multitasking while working out

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As new technology and innovations creep their way into our everyday lives, they transform everything, including the way we work out. For example, it’s now a common sight to find workout machines at the gym with built-in televisions for those who need a little distraction from their exertions.

Given that we stay constantly connected to our worlds via our mobile phones, reading texts emails or social media updates, some people find it easier to work out while listening to music or catching up on the newest episode of a drama series.

On the other hand, there are those who prefer to work out while “unplugged”, so they can focus on breathing and pacing instead being distracted by forms of entertainment. As such, opinions are clearly split about whether carrying out exercises with other activities is a good idea.

Better to be working out than not

When it comes to those who struggle to get themselves to the gym, anything that gets them to work out is a good thing, according to trainers. For these individuals, working out while reading a book on their e-reader or watching a show can sometimes even lengthen the duration of their workout, so they end up burning more calories.

Jogging or cycling could feel like a drag to those who dislike exercising, but being focused on something else could be the key to taking their minds off the tiresome workout. It’s no wonder why some gyms in America offer cardio cinemas – where you get to sweat it out while watching a movie in a darkened room.

multitaskingPhoto: Shutterstock

Choose your activity wisely
Certain studies have shown that paying too much attention to your phones during exercise can reduce focus, workout intensity, pace, and your heart rate.

However, that is not always the case: You could be exercising harder and longer than you usually would, depending on which side activities you select.

Which exercise to pick?
Exercises like running require more cognitive resources from the brain as compared to cycling on a stationary bike, or getting on the elliptical. As such, the efficiency of these workouts will be affected differently by side activities.

When running on a treadmill, maintaining your pace and movement requires focus, and any other activity that requires brain processing, such as reading a book, or answering a text, could cause you to slow down.

On the other hand, being on a stationary bike or the elliptical requires less brainpower as your body moves along the motions of the pedal and machine. As such, reading or watching a movie while performing these exercises do not diminish the effectiveness of your workout as significantly as when you’re running.

multitaskingPhoto: Shutterstock

Which activities to distract yourself with?

Researchers from the University of Florida discovered the key to achieving higher-intensity workouts - engage your brain in continuous activities that are also fun, fast-paced and easy.

Play a mobile game to make the time pass faster, so you’ll work out for longer without even noticing! Reading a book can also help, such as a romance novel – stimulating enough to distract you from the mundane workout, but not too demanding that you’ll be forced to slow down.

Additionally, listening to music has been found to boost the effectiveness of your workout. A study at Kent State University found that participants who were on the treadmill while listening to music had higher heart rates and ran above average treadmill speeds, as compared to other participants who ran while texting or talking on the phone.

What else to look out for:
Keep your electronic devices or books at eye level, so you can maintain the optimal posture for your workout. Bending over to look at your phones as you respond to a text or play a mobile game,could make you more prone to ailments or injuries.

In summary, beginners who struggle with self-motivation and discipline are encouraged to turn to sources of entertainment to distract themselves in order to achieve longer and harder workouts, while those who are engaged in a strict training programme should rid themselves of distractions and focus on their breathing, pace and movement. Also, remember that the type of exercise and entertainment you choose will affect the overall effectiveness of your workout.


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