I read and article in the NY Times this weekend about the mounting scientific evidence that sedentary activities (like watching TV and sitting at your computer all day) have a huge impact on your health (The Hazards of the Couch). Not super new news but important to call out on my TVaholic blog.
In a recent study in Scotland, men who spent 2 or more leisure hours a day in front of a screen doubled their risk of a “cardiac event.” Those who spent four or more hours per day in front of the TV were 50% more likely to die of any cause. The kicker is that even if they exercised regularly, it did not make up for this excessive amount of TV watching. They think that the TV watching may cause some “negative metabolic change with your lipids” that even exercise can not counteract.
I did have an initial freak out when I read this because although I have trimmed my TV watching significantly, I am not necessairly replacing the TV watching with non-sedentary activities. I am generally reading or spending hours on the computer (after which I usually have nothing to show for it.) What else are you supposed to do in a 600 square foot apartment in NYC when it is freezing cold outside and dark and you don’t have Wii or an XBox?
The article did specifically say, however, that even reading and playing board games burns more calories that watching TV, which I interpreted to mean that these activities do not count as being “sedentary health risks.” Phew! I took this to the next level and decided that Words With Friends and On-Line Scrabble do not count as sedentary. I am also hoping that Blogging must also fall in this category of “not sedentary.”
When I am at work, I must get up at least twice and hour to get water or a snack or visit the rest room, which keeps me “active” all day long. Hauling my but into the office is the best choice since it definitely means a longer walk for all of these activities and includes my commute (which involves lots of stairs and walking) and deciding what to wear (which often hurts my brain and involves ironing…”not sedentary”)
Clearly, standing up and conversing with people (aka mingling) would be pretty high up there on the list of activities to replace TV on freezing cold NYC nights. Unless of course one is consuming voluminous amounts of alcohol and bar food, in which case one might have to jump up and down while talking to counteract the intake of unhealthy calories.
Net net…excessive TV is seriously bad for your health.