The Dangers Of Distracted Walking

November 1st, 2019 Becki Andrus

The benefits of walking have been discussed here previously. There is an extensive list of reasons why this form of physical activity can be beneficial for you or for anyone in your family, and the results that can be experienced are advantageous both physically and mentally.

These include a reduction in the risk of encountering obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, along with serious health conditions such as heart disease, and cancer.

Engaging in a regular exercise activity such as walking can also boost the fitness of your heart and lungs, cause your body to burn additional calories, maintain a healthy weight, decrease belly fat, reduce joint pain, improve the strength in your bones, and expand your coordination.

Walking will also provide you with a more positive mental outlook through the release of endorphins within your brain. These chemicals function in coordination with your receptors in the brain, raise your levels of energy and optimism, and also diminish any anxiety.

However, what is intended as a healthy endeavor that should help safeguard you from unwanted health issues can actually place you at risk if you lose focus while you are taking your walk. Moving without paying attention to where you are going and how are you are getting there can lead to problematic situations such as falling down a flight of stairs, and tripping over a curb or nearby objects.

In some situations, it can also result in accidentally walking into traffic. According to a recent survey from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the number of pedestrians who encounter injuries as the result of being distracted while walking had risen to 60%.

When Is Walking A Risk

The AAOS has also stated that any type of texting while writing can change your walking pattern, your speed, and the gait of your walk itself. Young adults and teenagers between the ages of 16 and 25 are most likely to experience an injury due to distractions while they are walking. In most cases, these individuals suffered a health issue while talking as opposed to texting.

The National Safety Council has also underscored the hazards of engaging in conversation while walking, by stating that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles during 2017. But there is no question that texting on the phone is also a common distraction that raises the risk of an injury.

According to the AAOS, a recent study reviewed headphone distractions for pedestrians. Out of 116 reported deaths that occurred while the individuals were wearing headphones, 68% of those fatalities involved males, while 67% involved individuals under age 30.

Listening to music with headphones that keep you from hearing the various sounds that surround you also presents a dangerous distraction. These specific behaviors that cause individuals to become less attentive will be examined further in the section that focuses on reducing distractions.

The National Safety Council has also provided a reminder to obey all traffic signals and traffic signs, remain in firm eye contact with any drivers of approaching vehicles, and to wear bright, reflective clothing. Alcohol consumption and drug usage will impair your senses and should be avoided if you are planning to walk.

All of these recommendations become even more essential if you are walking in an area that does not contain sidewalks. In those situations, it is also important to face oncoming traffic as you walk and to remain as far from the traffic as possible.

Underestimating The Problem

The AAOS also commissioned a Distracted Walking Study during 2015. The study included statistics that indicated how many people believe that distracted walking is an issue, but that it was a problem that existed for other people rather than themselves. Specifically, 78% of U.S. adults believed that distracted walking is a “serious” issue according to the AAOS study, yet only 29% were willing to admit that they engage in distracted walking themselves. 22% of the individuals who responded also consider distracted walking to be “funny,” according to the study.

How To Reduce Distractions

In addition to these recommendations on safe practices to undertake before and during your walk, there are also specific steps that you can take to decrease your distractions. The AAOS has also provided recommendations that can safeguard you from the risks of distracted walking. These include:

Maintaining a low volume on headphones or electronics devices that will enable you to remain aware of nearby traffic sounds. It will also help you hear any sirens, honking horns, barking dogs, and other sounds that may be occurring where you are situated. 

It is essential to focus on your surroundings while you are walking at all times. This includes being aware of all people, obstacles, objects, and certainly any traffic that is near where are you are walking.

It is also beneficial to avoid jaywalking at all times. Instead, it is best to cross streets at traffic lights while remaining aware of other pedestrians, along with any vehicles that are moving anywhere near the street.

It is critical to continually look up rather than down whenever you are stepping off of a curb or onto a curb. This is particularly true in major intersections, and this is essential whenever you are walking on stairs or escalators.

Whenever you have a conversation with a child, or any other person surrounding you, it is recommended that you stop walking and have the conversation away from any type of traffic flow. This is also true for any phone usage regardless of whether it’s conversation or texting.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help

At Orthopedic Associates, we want you to enjoy your daily activities. That includes walking, or any type of sports or recreational activity that you prefer. If you encounter discomfort, illness, injury, or have a concern about anything that might keep you from being involved in physical activity, we are here to assist you, so that you can return to pain-free participation in the activities and lifestyle that you enjoy.  

That is why Orthopedic Associates offers a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical sports therapy, and state-of-the-art-technology including our digital imaging and open MRI, and an on-site surgical center for more patient convenience.

Our board-certified doctors have been practicing medicine for a combined total of 183 years of experience. This includes expertise in sports medicine, through which our physicians provide personalized care for a broad range of sports-related injuries – big or small.

In addition to the services that we provide that are related to Sports Medicine and In-House Imaging, our physicians are always available to utilize their knowledge to help you should you require joint replacement, or arthroscopic surgery, while our specialists are also here to assist with physical therapy, rehabilitation, and orthopedic trauma.

We encourage you to visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today to be on your way to feeling better.

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