Disability is an area of medicine which has gripped headlines in the past few weeks. Researchers have discovered there is a disability risk linked with sitting too much, but what is the real risk of watching too much TV? Although the newest study focused on people over the age of 60, it revealed some startling truths.
For every additional hour a person sits down, his or her risk of becoming immobile increases significantly. Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine highlighted the real risk behind these figures. Put quite simply, Americans, especially older Americans, have very minimal levels of physical activity, which adversely affects their health.
Heart failure, diabetes, stroke and cancer pose a greater risk to a person’s health when they spend prolonged periods sitting. Incredibly, one study determined if Americans spent fewer than three hours a day sitting, it would increase the average life expectancy by two years.
The study involved over 2,000 participants. Yet, only 6.2% of these participants met the national guidelines for fitness, which advises that an adult should get at least two and half hours of exercise a week, including brisk walking. Other activities like jogging or swimming equate to more exercise; thus, only 75 minutes are recommended for these more strenuous activities.
Researchers were quick to point out the fact that this study does not conclusively prove cause and effect. However, there are compelling reasons to link disability with prolonged sitting and watching TV.
The average American spends over 5 hours watching TV each day. This adds up to over 35 hours a week. Furthermore, the average American youth watches 1,200 hours of television. This is 300 hours more each year than the time they spend in school.
For the first time, mobile media is set to overtake TV in popularity. The average adult now spends 5 hours online. Digital media shot ahead with an increase of 15.8% in usage. TV is down slightly from the statistics from previous years. If current trends continue, the number of hours spent will decrease to 4 hours and roughly 30 minutes.
As more and more people spend time on tablets and smartphones, they are spending the majority of this time sitting. The best way to combat the health risks of prolonged sitting is to get in the habit of taking regular breaks. Getting a glass of water or walking around when you are talking on the phone are simple steps to improve activity levels.
Hours spent in front of the computer can put an enormous strain on the body, particularly the back and eyes. Investing time and resources in the right desk and chair can go a long way and boost productivity.
As with all things, less is more. While TV and digital media are not bad for your health, the disability risk linked with sitting is undeniable. If users can find ways to integrate the technology in their lives without sitting for long periods, this is the best compromise. After all, habits form early in life. If young Americans make a habit of keeping active, their life expectancy could increase by two full years.
By Simone Innamorati