According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, an adult can expect to live 4.8 years less than someone who doesn’t watch TV if he or she watches television for 6 hours per day. Every hour of TV that an adult watches after the age of 25 shortens your life by almost 22 minutes. To put that risk in comparison, smoking a single cigarette has been estimated to take about 11 minutes off your life. We need to turn off the TV!
This screen time can increase your chances of becoming obese in three ways. First, watching television takes time that you could be using to engage in regular physical activity. Also you might snack on junk food while you are sitting on the couch watching your favorite shows. Plus you will likely see hundreds of advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages during the television programs.
Recently we have learned that spending long periods throughout the day sitting has long-term health implications, such as higher rates of disability. So in addition to missing out on exercise while we watch TV, sitting itself compounds the health problems.
It is important to remember that parents are role models for our children. It is hard to preach limits on screen time to kids if parents come home, sit on the couch, open a bag of chips, and turn on the TV. Instead, if our children see us exercising regularly on our own, they are also more likely to accept it as a normal part of their own lives. Rather than being a sort of punishment, our kids might look forward to exercising themselves.
If parents commit to becoming healthier themselves – making better nutrition choices and performing regular physical activity – our children are much more likely to emulate these behaviors.
Turn off the TV (or at least limit it to less than one hour per day) and get some exercise instead!