Make Your Cell Phone Work for You

Nearly all of my patients have cell phones, and I know that they use them because when I walk into the room they are often sitting in a chair waiting for me and passing the time by chatting away. At the end of the month, I know that they get a bill with their total number of minutes.

Posted on | Julie Silver, MD | Comments ()

Nearly all of my patients have cell phones, and I know that they use them because when I walk into the room they are often sitting in a chair waiting for me and passing the time by chatting away. At the end of the month, I know that they get a bill with their total number of minutes. 

What would happen if they spent the same amount of time talking, but instead of sitting they paced the room? If they were not waiting for the doctor, they could walk and talk outside or in their homes – perhaps even climbing stairs as they talk. Think about all those minutes walking and talking and the positive effect that they’d have on their physical health!

For years, I have done many of my conference call meetings on my treadmill or elliptical trainers. I put my phone on speaker when I’m on a stationary machine. I do get out of breath a bit, and people can hear the noise in the background, so I usually just tell them what I’m doing. I suspect some people think it’s odd, but I do it anyway.

Moreover, study after study has come out showing the benefits of tracking your steps (or minutes) by using a pedometer. There are cell phone apps that act as pedometers, too. I can’t vouch for those, but consider trying one of them out.   

Keeping a log of the number of steps you take each day is very helpful (and keeps you motivated). Approximately 2,000 steps = 1 mile. The recommended number of daily steps for active, healthy people is 10,000. Which translates into 5 miles per day. When you first use a pedometer, all you are doing is tracking how many steps each day you are taking already. Then, as you begin to increase your activity level, consider whether you should check in with your doctor for guidance. You definitely should if you have any underlying medical conditions, especially heart or lung problems. 

I know that I can “step it up” and add more minutes of exercise to my day just by walking nearly every time I talk on the phone (of course there are times when it might not be safe or appropriate). Give it a try – see if you can match your cell phone minutes to your pedometer minutes (keep a daily log). You’ll be walking yourself into a healthier person!

Blog written by Julie Silver, MD
Julie Silver, MD is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation...