Mobile ownership growth is rapidly expanding – matched only by our waistlines. Are the two related and if so, will switching off help our health?

Sydney-based weight loss expert Kylie Ryan believes that mobile phone usage is trapping us in the virtual world to the point where we ignore our body’s natural desires to move and stretch, get out into nature and fuel ourselves with nutritious foods.

“If you’re glued to your phone then you’re constantly in the virtual world and you’re ignoring all other sensory messages from your body,” says Ryan. “You get so disconnected that you forget how to listen to the subtle, quiet messages from your body, like hunger, fullness or sensory pleasure.”

This constant connection to our phones can have a very damaging effect on one area of our bodies in particular. “By checking our phones a few dozen times a day we’re damaging our brain’s productivity potential and we’re putting ourselves under a lot of stress by constantly thinking about looking at a screen,” says Ryan. “When this happens your cortisol levels rise and you will store more belly fat because your body thinks it’s in danger.

“Checking your phone all day has the same effect as being addicted to cocaine or fast food as far as your body is concerned.”

Being immersed in a virtual world also encourages mindless comfort eating, since we don’t pay attention to instincts that tell us we’re full.

To combat weight gain and disconnection caused by your phone, Ryan advises turning your phone off three times per day, for five minutes at a time, taking deep breaths and allowing yourself to truly appreciate simple sensory pleasures – like the sun on your face, the space around you and the ground at your feet.

“And sometimes, when you’re walking down a nice street, put your phone away and just enjoy watching the sun through the leaves, or the sound of your feet, the feel of your clothes on your skin. Life is too short to spend it all tweeting, posting, liking and instagramming! Get back inside your body and remember how it feels to be alive.”

How does your phone affect your life? Are you stuck in virtual-limbo? Let us know!