Binge Watchers Beware

For every hour of TV you watch, you may be shaving years off your life. So suggests a recent study that linked too much television to some of the most common causes of death. Most of us are spending more and more time watching television. So much so, that it may be replacing healthier activities.

People who love their screen time tend to be more sedentary. As a result, they aren’t as fit and expend fewer calories. Over time, they may gain weight, increasing their risk for serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. One recent study even found that binge watching in particular could increase your risk of death from a blood clot in the lung. All that time spent watching TV can also slow down how the brain works over time and even impair mental well-being leading to depression.

On top of that, most commercials and shows with product placement promote unhealthy foods that spark cravings. Past studies have also shown that watching TV while eating can be a distraction, making it easier to overeat.

To get serious about tuning out the TV, Devin Vicknair, Ph.D., LPC, a behavioral health specialist at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Center for Weight Management, provides his tips for making a positive change.

 Actively choose what you want to watch: Don’t just leave your TV on for background noise. And turn it off when your show is over. You’ll end up wasting fewer hours sitting on the couch. Put the remote away. You’ll be less likely to mindlessly channel surf if you have to get up to retrieve it.

Turn off the TV during dinner. You’ll save yourself time and needless calories and bonus; you can enjoy quality conversation with your friends and family.

Use TV time as a reward. A recent study suggests just one hour of physical activity a day—something as simple as a brisk walk or a bicycle ride—may undo the increased risk of early death that comes with sitting eight hours or more on a daily basis. If you incorporate an hour of exercise, you can indulge in a little screen time, but only after your workout.

Make TV time more active: Invest in a stationary bike or treadmill to use while you watch TV. Or a more budget friendly option would be to ditch the couch and sit on a stability ball instead. Make sure during commercials you use the break to get up and walk around or go up and down the stairs some, just avoid going to the pantry.

Mindlessness: If you must eat in front of the TV, make sure you are practicing portion control. For example, if you are going to eat popcorn, place a desired amount into a sandwich bag rather than sitting the entire bowl/bag in front of you.

Be aware: Most people do not consider what kind of information that they are inviting into their home. What you are watching on TV is like having those events occur right in your family room. Consider going on a “News Diet” by limiting the amount of negative news that you may watch.

Trying to stay healthy amidst the distractions and stressors of everyday life can feel like an impossible task. Implementing small changes like the ones listed above add up to make a big impact on your health. However, if you feel that receiving professional guidance and support would improve your health and weight-loss journey, the experts at the Center for Weight Management can help. We implement a whole- body, clinically proven, physician supervised approach to help patients reach and maintain their weight loss goals. Our robust support program is rich with tools to help you be successful for the long term.


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