International Journal of Exercise Science 10(5): 743-753, 2017. To investigate the effects of a cell phone texting task on an individual’s ability to perform three ambulation-based tasks, each with different and progressively more difficult demands. 36 participants (24 male/12 female, average age 23.4) performed: a Timed Up & Go (TUG), stair ambulation (STAIR), and tandem gait (TAN). Participants completed each gait-based task under four conditions: as a practice, while holding their cellular device (baseline), while texting a message, and while reading a message. Statistically significant differences were found within the following variables: 1) mean time to complete a gait task increased through the conditions (Baseline, Texting, Reading), 2) mean number of gait deviations increased while texting during TAN condition in comparison to baseline, 3) mean characters per second became less only in the STAIR task, 4) mean number of texting errors per second increased only in the TAN task. The reduction of gait speed, from baseline to texting, were similar to each other (average 2.46 sec) despite the difficulty of the task (TUG, STAIR, TAN). Results of this study reaffirm that texting while walking produces slower gait. However, the degree that gait slows does not appear proportional to the level of difficulty of gait task. Comparatively, more challenging gait tasks resulted in increases in both path deviations, texting errors and decreases texting speed. These findings suggest that increased dual-task demands result in decreased efficiency in both texting and walking performance.

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Revised Manuscript with comments responding to the reviewers questions