My mom used to say it was going to rot my brain. I’m sure you’ve either heard (or even said) something similar yourself. These days we call it “screen time” because it’s no longer just a television in the middle of the family room. But no matter the size of your screen, a new study just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that my mom may have had a point. The study examined the relationship between prolonged TV viewing and the leading causes of death in the United States and the results are unsettling indeed. They found that extended TV viewing is strongly associated with earlier death from 8 of the 14 leading causes of death in the US. It’s time to cut the cord…this article by my team at UpWellness will help you understand these new findings and help you find some non-screen leisure time activities.
Although it may sound severe and even unreal, research has found that watching too much television is linked to an increased risk of mortality due to not only cancer and heart disease, but also COPD and Parkinson’s disease. A study published in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine gives us this stark and staggering statistic, television watching may be killing you way too early.
Just to be clear, it’s probably not the actual watching of the television that is increasing the risk of all-cause mortality, but the things that body is or is not doing while watching television that are truly to blame.
Study author Sarah K, Keadle had this to say,
“We know that television viewing is the most common leisure-time sedentary behavior and our working hypothesis is that it is an indicator of overall physical inactivity,” In this context, our results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many different adverse health effects.”
The study unfolded some serious threats to health
The National Cancer Institute tracked participants in the study for 14 years. Those involved in the study answered questions about their daily habits including their diet, activity, and television viewing
The results should be enough to motivate anyone to shut the television down and get moving:
- People who watched 3-4 hours of television had a 15% greater risk of mortality overall.
- For each additional two hours of television watching, the mortality risk for heart disease rose 7%, Alzheimer’s 23%, Parkinson’s 35%, COPD 28%, flu/pneumonia 24%, diabetes 56%, liver disease 33%, and suicide 43%.
What about exercise?
Apparently, exercise does little to eliminate the damage done by the sedentary activity of television watching.
“Although we found that exercise did not fully eliminate risks associated with prolonged television viewing, certainly for those who want to reduce their sedentary television viewing, exercise should be the first choice to replace that previously inactive time,” says Keadle.
What happens to your body when you watch television?
Great shifts in insulin levels and glucose metabolism happen when the body remains sedentary in front of the television. Additional factors might include an increase in inflammation which could bring on conditions such as COPD and Parkinson’s.
Sitting, which has been called the new smoking, may be linked to poorer physical fitness, including compromised cardiorespiratory fitness and decreased muscle strength.
Sadly, television watching has been linked to depression which might explain the increased risk of suicide.
Things you can do besides watching television
If you are ready to give up your television watching habits, there are a boatload of things you can do instead, here are just some to consider.
- Learn a new skill
- Go to the library
- Take a hike
- Ride a bike
- Take dance lessons
- Walk your dog
- Go fishing
- Go camping
- Have a picnic
- Organize your home
- Have a yard sale
- Make healthy meals for the week
- Build something
- Renovate something
- Start a garden
- Take up beekeeping
- Take an art class
There are endless fun and exciting things you can do to replace your television watching habit, are you ready?
-The UpWellness Team