“If you watch television for three or more hours a day, your risk of premature death is double that of someone who watches only one hour or less.” Sounds like an exaggeration, but not according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The Health Damage of Too Much Sitting
The health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, especially too much sitting, are widely known; however, surprisingly, computer use and driving time were not associated with an increased risk of death the way television watching was.
Studies have found that for every two additional hours spent watching TV, a person’s risk of death from heart disease and cancer rose significantly. Does this mean that watching TV is detrimental to your health in ways beyond sitting?
TV Increases the Time You Spend Sitting in a Completely Relaxed State
The results linking television time and premature death suggests television may be uniquely damaging. The study’s authors suggested part of the problem may be the extremely sedentary nature of television watching. When you’re driving or working at a computer, your body moves (albeit minimally) and your mind is engaged. This is not the case when watching TV.
TV Has a Numbing Effect On Your Brain
Watching TV actually has a major impact on your brain chemistry, causing it to slip into a passive, receptive mode. Researchers found that damage comes not from TV programs themselves, but from the inordinate amount of time kids, especially, spend in front of television and computer screens.
This activity produces an almost narcotic effect on the brain, actually numbing areas that would be stimulated by other activities, such as reading.
The bottom line is that too much sitting is deleterious to your health, be it in front of a computer, television, or in a car. And, according to recent studies, TV watching may be the worst of the sitting offenders, drawing your body and mind into a completely sedentary, passive state.
What To Do?
Instead of parking yourself in front of the TV at night, consider doing something else, or at the very least engage in some minor activity while the TV is on.