Your mom was right. Watching too much television is tough on your body and can even shorten your life. According to medical research, here’s why.
The sedentary life can kill you. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that Americans who watch at least three hours of television a day double their risk of dying prematurely compared to people who watch TV an hour or less a day. Researchers followed 13,284 adults for eight years to track their small-screen habits and noted that TV couch potatoes are more active in mindless snacking and eating. The hours of sitting and extra calorie intake negatively affect body weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and more. An 18-year Japanese study of 86,024 binge television watchers reports that people who are between ages 40 and 59 who watch more than five hours of television a day are six times more likely to die of a fatal blood clot than those in the same age group who watch TV 2.5 hours or less per day.
Extra television harms your sleep. People who watch TV late into the evening affect their sleep habits. For starters, keeping on television, especially in your bedroom, shaves off your actual sleep time. The common violence and drama on television also stimulate the body’s nervous system and interrupt restful sleep. A 2013 Sleep in America poll surveyed the slumber habits of 1,000 adults ages 23 to 60 and noted that sitting while watching television promotes poor sleep quality and waking too early in the morning, and increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
An inactive TV lifestyle dulls your brain. The unhealthy habit of little exercise and too much television also can affect your cognitive thinking by middle age. One 25-year study of participants who watched more than three hours of TV per day showed, on average, lower cognitive functions of processing information, planning and paying attention.
How do you think television watching affects your day-to-day health?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.