You may think nothing of binge-watching your favorite television show or movie series. However, doing so on a regular basis can have a serious negative impact on your health and may result in an early death. Here's more information about this problem and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
The Problem Is Being Stationary
Despite what politicians and media pundits may say, the problem isn't the television watching itself but what you're doing while staring at the screen. Most people either sit in chairs or lay on couches while looking at their entertainment devices, which means they're not getting any physical activity for those hours they're powering through episode after episode of the shows they're viewing.
Additionally, it's not unusual for people to snack on unhealthy foods such as chips and soda as well as eschew sleep in favor of getting in just one more episode. The culmination of these unhealthy habits is an increased risk of disease (e.g., diabetes, heart failure) and an early grave.
In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who watched television three to four hours per day increased their risk of dying from cancer by 15 percent, and those who watched seven or more hours per day were 47 percent more likely to die.
Negating the Effects of Binge Watching
Understanding what causes a particular problem is the first step to addressing it. Even though binge-watching is associated with increased risk of health problems, that doesn't mean you have to give it up. It just means you need to take steps to counteract the negative effects of the activity.
The biggest problem with binge-watching television shows is the fact that you're sedentary while doing it. Thus, a good way to counterbalance your habit is to increase your level of activity. Instead of just lying on the couch for hours on end, use some or all that time to walk on a treadmill.
Even walking at 2 mph on a treadmill will get your blood circulating and help reduce the risk of blood clots forming. Additionally, the exercise will strengthen your heart, burn some calories, and help control your appetite so you don't eat as much junk food.
Speaking of food, another thing you can do is swap the chips, pizza, candy, and other empty calories for something healthier, such as fruit, veggies and dip, or even popcorn. Consuming popular snack foods that are filled with sugar, fat, and salt in large quantities on a regular basis can increase your waist line as well as your risk of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, eating while watching television can cause you to eat more than you normally would, so be sure to portion your snacks appropriately to avoid consuming more calories than you actually need.
A third thing you should consider doing is minimizing sitting in other areas of your life. If you live fairly close to where you work, ride a bike instead of driving or taking the bus. You'll reduce your carbon footprint and get in some needed exercise. Purchase a desk that can be raised and lowered easily and commit to standing for several hours a day. For every hour of television watching, compensate with an hour of an outdoor activity such as gardening.
There are many other things you can do to counteract the harmful side effects of binge-watching television. Discuss the issue with your healthcare provider, who can provide some tips as well as monitor your health and let you know when problems arise. For more information about this issue or assistance with other health concerns, contact your primary care provider.