The human body is built for motion, not the sedentary lifestyle that so many of us have become accustomed to in the past 50 years, due in many ways to the innovation of the computer and television set. Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time has an increased negative impact on the body versus standing. With the average American watching 5.1 hours of television per day, a sedentary lifestyle has become commonplace, leading potentially to compounded occurrence of obesity, increased blood pressure/sugar and type two diabetes among other negative conditions. Watching TV excessively can also negatively impact the mind. Inefficient physical inactivity certainly plays a role in cognition as does the viewing content. In fact, television content has been shown to elicit adverse thought patterns like inadequacy, shame, fear, and grief.
6-8 things that might happen if you quit watching TV & why?
1. MORE CASH: With the rise of programming costs, ditching traditional cable and satellite providers is gaining momentum. If your current programming costs you $100 a month, $1200 can provide a pleasurable annual vacation or the opportunity to invest in that home improvement project that you have been contemplating. And there’s another monetary potential; just think of the cash you will save by avoidance of annoying and manipulative advertisements, especially if the kids are watching.
2. BETTER RELATIONSHIPS: Let’s face it, relationships can be challenging enough without diversion tactics. Sitting next to someone and sharing a viewing event is not the same experience as meaningful communication. Unfortunately, in long term relationships, the former becomes prevalent or even a substitute to the latter. Research also shows that viewing can impact expectations in marriage and families as TV shows depict unrealistic views of relationships and situations.
3. BETTER PHYSICAL HEALTH: Many research studies have correlated adverse negative outcomes to prolonged sitting time. A US study of 7744 men who reported more than 23 hours of combined television time and automobile time per week, had an 82% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Substantial, consistent movement at relevant intervals is crucial to our wellbeing. Adults may meet public guidelines for physical activity, but if they sit for prolonged periods of time, their metabolic health is compromised.
4. MORE TIME: How often do we say or think, “I just don’t have time for that?” In fact, 75% of parents claim to be too busy to read to their children at night. Being ‘busy’ has become part of modern expression, but we have more control of our time than we realize. The cutting back of meaningless tasks to accomplish the meaningful is empowering. Managing your time better can directly reduce your stress level thereby reducing your need for mindless TV gazing.
5. BETTER MENTAL HEALTH: Much of the programming available these days is negative, violent, worldly and frankly, unrealistic. Watching TV in excess can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anger, problems with self-control and the inability to think for oneself. You may not even realize the impact that it is having on you. Some may even lose touch with reality. Heavy viewers report feeling considerably more anxious and less happy than light viewers do.
6. MORE REST: Although it can seem impossible at times to keep your eyes open, TV viewing can be a stimulating activity for the nervous system. Cognitive stimulation creates electrical activity in the brain, causing neurons to race. When watching an action drama, the body can get stressed and go into a ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing cortisol. The light emitted from the TV may also play a role in delaying the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.
7. WITHDRAWAL: A researcher has shown that TV viewing creates twice the brain activity in the right hemisphere versus the left. This neurological anomaly releases a surge of endorphins, creating the ‘perfect storm’ for a habit-forming condition. In fact, even casual viewers may experience opiate-like withdrawal symptoms when they stop watching for any length of time. If you are using television to escape from reality or if you have developed an addiction, a journey of self-actualization may be helpful. Not unlike food for example, moderation and self-discipline may be the key.
Minimal amounts of TV viewing, with the right content, may provide opportunity to boost creativity or relieve stress. These things, however, can be accomplished in other ways. Being aware of how you feel during and after certain programming can lead to a path of understanding. Self-discovery may be key and that path to understanding need not be a scary thing.