September 6, 2011

TV... As Toxic To Your Health As Smoking?

A recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Aug 15 2011) found that for every hour an adult watched TV, their life expectancy was reduced by 22 minutes.

With the average American spending five hours a day watching TV, that means in over a period of a year of watching TV regularly, it decreases your life expectancy by nearly a month, 27.8 days.
A study by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that reducing television viewing has an important role in preventing obesity and in lowering BMI in young children. The same 2008 study also showed that having a TV in a child’s bedroom increased viewing time by nearly nine hours a week.

While we all know the health risks that accompany smoking, new research shows that watching TV jeopardizes our health just as much as cigarettes.
I asked others on Facebook what they do instead of watching TV, here are their healthy responses:
  • Ashley (Marietta, Ga.): I hike Kennesaw Mountain or go for a run by the river. I don't even have cable! It's all outrageous anyhow. Get me outside and in tune with nature.
  • Katie (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Pure Barre, hiking in the mountains or running! I don't even have cable!
  • Bianca (Mason, Mich.): I also don’t have cable and hate TV. I play outside with my daughter, do art projects, rollerblade, read or jog. The closest thing I do to watching TV is doing my Jillian Michaels DVD.
  • Kate (East Lansing, Mich.): Spend my time teaching clients and working out at Pure Barre Okemos!
  • Sarah (Vassar, Mich): I used to have a rule that I had to do sit ups, push ups or a different exercise during every commercial break, so maybe it only took off 11 minutes (for each hour instead of 22 minutes)!
  • Jason (Mich.): Lately I've been training for the race & two triathlons. 
While being sedentary watching TV, your brain goes into a passive mode turning you into a vegetable (an unhealthy one, like a potato!). People are more likely to brainlessly eat and not exercise while watching TV, increasing health risks.

Turn off the TV, save money and cancel cable, go outside, read a book, interact with family and friends, do anything instead of watching TV!

For nearly a year, my wife and I didn't have a TV in the house -- and it was one of the best experiences. Today, we do have one TV, but don't have cable, so we rarely watch it. Instead we listen to music all the time, take our dog for walks, work on projects around the house, go to a community event, read, work on this blog and more! I definitely think we have become much more productive, healthier and happier living without TV.

What do you do instead of watching TV? If you are on Twitter, post with the hashtag #insteadofwatchingtv or share on Kehres Health & Chiropractic’s Facebook page.

Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis. Br J Sports Med 2011 Aug 15.

A Randomized Trial of the Effects of Reducing Television Viewing and Computer Use on Body Mass Index in Young Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008.

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