Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Television - How Much is Too Much?

I would like you to take a moment to think about how many hours of television you watch on a daily basis. One hour a day? Five hours a day? Chances are, you are watching too much television.

The issue with watching too much TV is that you begin to develop a sedentary lifestyle. According to, sedentary is “characterized by or requiring a sitting posture,” or “accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.” Essentially, we have a bad habit of sitting on our butts too much and being lazy.

life expectancy
Watching too much television encourages a
sedentary lifestyle.
You may be asking yourself “what is so bad about being sedentary?” I too enjoy a night cuddled up on the couch watching the newest episode of Sons of Anarchy, but in doing so I am exposing myself to the negative effects of watching television. A recent study, conducted in Australia, has shown that individuals who are over the age of 25 shave 22 minutes off of their life expectancy for each hour spent watching TV.

Headed by Dr. Lennert Veerman, he and his colleagues reported their findings in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The study was based on an average of six hours of TV viewing per day, compared to a person who watches no television. Using data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, the research team generated life expectancy tables based on the viewing habits of the average Australian.

The research claims that sedentary behavior is as bad for your health as smoking and obesity, due to the dangers created by prolonged inactivity. Watching too much television puts you at risk of developing the same health complications as the aforementioned. A previous FamilyWize blog, Is Sitting Bad for Your Health?, reveals more about sitting and life expectancy.

sedentary lifestyle
Some effects of watching television are
eating unhealthy snacks!
Think about it. When you are settling down for the night and tuning into Dancing with the Stars, you usually grab a snack and a drink. This would be fine, but most of us aren't going to slice up an apple and wash it down with a bottle of water. Instead, we scoop a bowl of our favorite ice cream, or opt for that desirable bag of sour cream and onion chips from the cupboard. We pair it with a soft drink or perhaps a nice, cold beer. These items are full of calories and contain high contents of fat. This process becomes subconsciously habitual and the long-term negative effects set in. Diabetes. Heart disease. Cancer.

So next time you are ready to sit down and indulge in a calorie-laden junk food fest, think about the possible unhealthy side effects. The affects of watching too much television and living a sedentary lifestyle may not be immediate, but that does not make them any less real. The choice is ours. Do we want that extra hour of TV, or 22 minutes to truly live?

Sedentary behavior
Get Active! Use TV to play WII or exercise.
Healthy Alternatives - Get Active!

Go for a walk/run
Do some yoga
Take a bike ride
Go for a swim
Use Wii, or Xbox

Food for thought - Healthy Snacks

Fruit smoothies
Cheese with a glass of wine (just one, don’t get carried away!)
Nutty yogurt
Celery with sunflower seed butter
Peanut butter on a banana
Homemade trail mix

Derek Slichter
Contributing Writer

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