Maybe you have lined up your favourite movies for watching all through the weekend; but you may need to change your plan, as evidence has emerged that effects of sitting for too long in front of the television may be as deadly as that of smoking.
Scientists say too much TV time does not only affect your eyesight or vision, but it may double your risk of dying prematurely from obesity, lack of exercise, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases.
According to the physicians, every hour spent watching television shortens the viewer’s life by 22 minutes.
Researchers say adults who watch TV three hours or more a day may double their risk of premature death from any cause, compared to those who watch less or do not watch at all.
Consultant cardiologist, Dr. Segun Akinsanya, says though the dangers have nothing to do with the TV, the fact that watching TV for long hours encourages sedentary living, bad posture and increases one’s risk of adding excess calories, which all have negative consequences on life expectancy.
He says, “We must get it right, the warning has nothing to do with the effects of the TV because that is what most people think. We are discouraging it because it is easy to make watching TV a habit and when it becomes one, it is hard to quit.
“Watching TV is a sedentary habit that you gain nothing much from. It discourages you from exercising and increases your chances of being obese in dangerous areas, like the belly and the thighs.
“Every hour you spend fiddling with your remote control and switching channels decreases your cardiovascular health, which is as important as breathing. Many metabolic functions are on hold while you are sitting in a spot for long. One of them is efficient blood circulation.”
Also, some thought-provoking studies by scientists at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, strongly suggest that it is high time one stopped being a couch potato watching marathon Mexican soaps or television series, which may cut one’s life expectancy by a quarter.
The team of researchers assessed 13,284 young and healthy Spanish university graduates between age 37 and 50 who were mostly women, to determine the relationship between three types of sedentary behaviours such as television viewing time, sitting at the computer and time spent driving and its risks to death.
Interestingly, it was revealed that television viewing is the worst sedentary habit an individual can adopt. The Spanish scientists reported 97 deaths, with 19 deaths from cardiovascular causes, 46 from cancer and 32 from other causes in those that were studied during the period.
Most importantly, they discovered that the risk of death was two-fold higher for participants who reportedly watched three or more hours of TV a day, compared to those watching one or less hours.
This two-fold higher risk was also apparent after accounting for a wide array of other variables related to a higher risk of death.
The study’s lead author and a professor at the Department of Public Health at the university, Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, says that television watching is gradually reducing life expectancy of many, especially women, in the 21st century.
Martinez-Gonzalez says, “The world is becoming more sedentary. With a touch and not having to move, you get entertained for hours. Television viewing is a major sedentary behaviour that is threatening the lives of many, but it is adults that must be more be careful.
“As the population ages, sedentary behaviours will become more prevalent, especially watching television; and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to ageing.
“Our findings suggest that adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one hour each day.”
Physicians say watching too much TV is as dangerous as smoking or being overweight, and that sedentary lifestyle whose effects include obesity and heart diseases should now be seen as a public health problem.
Staying glued to the TV on weekends especially, is addictive .It’s addiction has surpassed that of tobacco in many surveys. It will take much effort on ones part to break the habit.
Akinsanya advises that one should not just cut TV hours to one hour per day but also use at least 30 minutes of it for brisk walking or running around in the environment to exercise the various muscles of the body, which he says is good for blood circulation.
To help you cope better on this journey of being more active, here are some other entertaining activities you can add to your weekend schedule to ensure that you have maximum fun.
Pursue a hobby: Day in and day out — weekdays are a drag. Routines can start to wear on even the most fortuitous minds. Having some sort of hobby, no matter how obscure, can be a great way for you to shake off the dust of monotony that settles on your brain five days a week. Hobbies, whether they’re based in logic or creativity, allow your brain to wander leisurely down curious avenues of thought while flexing your ability to think critically and perceive patterns.
Playing Sudoku, the piano, or volleyball are some pretty good options. Hobbies are like yoga for your brain; they help create more “flexible” thought patterns than can be used to solve complex problems in the future. Plus they’re an excellent outlet for stress.
Disconnect: The most successful people avoid e-mail for a period of time, Vanderkam says. “I’m not saying the whole weekend, but even just a walk without the phone can feel liberating. I advocate taking a ‘tech Sabbath.’ If you don’t have a specific religious obligation of no-work time, taking Saturday night to mid-day Sunday off is a nice, ecumenical time that works for many people.”
Volunteer: Participate in fundraising events in your church, association or community. This is a great way to network and to meet others with similar interests. The visibility also helps in branding you as a philanthropist.
Socialise: Humans are social creatures, and studies of people’s experienced happiness through the day finds that socialising ranks right up there, not too far down below sex. Go out with friends and family, or get involved in the local community. (Punch)