Julia Bradbury says mental health issues are on the rise because we have lost the ability to “stop”.
The broadcaster and walking enthusiast, 50, who has previously spoken about having suffered from depression, said constantly checking phones and social media means there is less space to think.
Bradbury, who is backing a campaign highlighting the dangers of walking on to military training areas, said that “taking notice of what’s around you” is a “source of meditation”.
“We have lost those moments because we’re all doing this (scrolling),” she said.
“So whereas you used to go to the post office and wait in line and look around and maybe even talk to people, now we just all hop on social media or check our phones (at the queue).
“We’ve got more mental health issues than ever before because we never stop or pause,” she told the PA news agency.
Bradbury added: “Your brain needs time to do what your brain does.
“It needs time to wander, to meander, to create, to think.
“Your imagination needs to have the ability to imagine, and you can’t imagine if all you’re doing is looking at a screen, or you’re constantly busy.
“It’s what we tell our children all the time when they go, ‘Mum I’m bored’. I say, ‘Great… use the imagination’.
“We can all learn lessons from that as adults.”
Bradbury is helping publicise Respect The Range, a campaign about the “very real risks to personal safety” from live firing, unexploded ordnance and fast-moving military vehicles when walking or cycling on military land.
It has been launched following a rise in reports of visitors straying from public footpaths and rights of way on military training areas.
Incidents include the death of a dog after it ran into a training exercise on Salisbury Plain, while the pet’s owner was also injured.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation is encouraging people to check training times and routes on Defence Training Estates before using the land to explore.
Bradbury said straying into military areas when not permitted puts the lives of the public and military personnel at risk.
“It’s something else to have on your radar, so it’s not just angry farmers that you need to watch out for, you also do have to be aware that these military training areas do exist,” she said.
“They are open, it is just a question of paying attention, watching, reading the signs.
“Even if you’re aware, if your dog is off the lead and strays into a military training operation, there are implications, especially if you chase after them.”
Information is at www.gov.uk/guidance/safe-access.