Don’t Touch That Dial!

By Copper Williams

Raise your hand if you can recall those fond Saturday mornings of your childhood, curled up on the couch with a cereal bowl in tow. Or maybe you were more of a night owl, opting to stay up until the late hours of the night, popcorn bag propped between pillows. Either way, you were there for a reason. And with the touch of a button, you were lost to a world of storybook heroes brought to life, cartoons dancing across the screen, or news broadcasters relaying the latest events across the globe.

We’re fortunate to live in an age where television is readily available in almost every home. Sure, we use the talking box for entertainment and information gathering, but at what point is our dependence a bad thing? It’s a tough question to ask, as a fellow binge-watcher, but there is a world beyond my living room.

“We’ve all heard of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle,” explains Dr. Mai T. Le, a physician with Dignity Health Medical Group – Stockton. As he notes, routinely sitting for multiple hours [watching TV] can have lasting impacts on your health like increased risk of developing type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, and even premature death. Add weight gain, relationship problems, and isolation to the list, and your life will look nothing like the soap opera stars’ you’re trolling.

Of course, a lazy Saturday spent in re-run land doesn’t feel hazardous—and as with all things, moderation is key. Dr. Le recommends no more than two to three hours of TV per day. “If you’re planning to watch for an extended amount of time, consider watching while walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike.”

One of the biggest concerns of TV time is how distracting it can be when trying to maintain healthy habits. As Dr. Le notes, there are a few important things to remember when engaging in any screen time. First things first, don’t your favorite show replace a workout or social activity—because studies show engaging in physical activity strengthens cognitive ability. Second, don’t lose precious beauty sleep over a late-night marathon, and third, if you’re going to snack while tuning in (who doesn’t?!) grab a bag of baby carrots and pass on the chips.