To Binge, Or Not To Binge
Alright… so, you’re at home and looking for something to do, and the kids are at grandma’s house for the evening. What a better time to catch up on the shows you enjoy on Netflix! Or maybe you enjoy playing video games, playing on a tablet, or some other screen time option. First of all, I’ll admit my husband and I do some serious television watching together sometimes. However, we limit this to only a few hours and we really only “binge” watch things once or twice a year. I believe that screen time entertainment in moderation is not necessarily a bad thing… it’s when we step outside the boundaries of moderation that effects can start to take their toll on us.
"..developing brains go on overload when they spend time looking at tablets, phones, television or the like.."
We’ve all been made aware of the importance of limiting screen time for children. Their developing brains go on overload when they spend time looking at tablets, phones, television or the like, and pediatricians recommend limiting screen time for small children to no more than one hour per day. Not only does it inhibit social and physical activity, it can interrupt sleep patterns or cause behavioral issues. But what about adults? How does screen time affect the average adult and are there any issues with binge watching our favorite television shows?
"..it almost seems like not watching every episode of a popular show all at once is not nearly as cool as binge watching them.."
Personally, I enjoy talking about my Netflix favorites at work. It surely makes for great discussion, and it almost seems like not watching every episode of a popular show all at once is not nearly as cool as binge watching them. Let’s face it… trying to discuss the show when you’ve only seen three episodes with someone that has watched the entire series can perhaps lead to an unwanted spoiler or two… NOT cool!! The peer pressure, on top of the already existing temptation to want to see more, can be enough to keep us seated for massive amounts of time.
But let’s face it… is this really healthy? As I mentioned, maybe binging out on television once in a while won’t make much difference, but doing it frequently can definitely lead to some troubling affects. “Sitting for long periods of time can increase one’s metabolic symptoms, which can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes,” says Dr. Sophia Tolliver, a Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center family medicine physician in Columbus. She added that poor sleep and unhealthy lifestyle choices can also stem from binge watching television.
"..even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for long periods was associated with worse health outcomes including heart disease.."
Mental health is another issue; the term “binge watching blues” has become common with researchers studying the affects of binge watching. With affects similar to addiction, hyper focusing on shows for several hours at a time can bring about feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression according to researchers.
Sleep Review reports that binge watching television can disrupt sleep patterns, cause sleep deprivation, and the like. Psychology Today mentions studies that have found viewing television in excess of two hours daily results in issues with falling asleep, waking up during the course of the night, and waking up earlier than desired without the ability to fall back asleep.
The elongated amounts of time sitting also play a huge factor in health. Johns Hopkins Medicine, labeling this as “sitting disease” is literally a disease caused by excessive sitting which can cause heart conditions, circulation problems, and weight gain. When our bodies are sedentary for long periods of time, our health effectively declines.
Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, “A large review of studies published in 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for long periods was associated with worse health outcomes including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Sedentary behavior can also increase your risk of dying, either from heart disease or other medical problems.”
Again, setting limits can be the key to healthy or unhealthy screen time entertainment. Take breaks every so often, or even incorporate some sort of physical activity while watching such as exercising, lifting weights, or using an exercising device such as an exercise bike, treadmill, or other exercise equipment. Make sure your time in front of the television is matched with time outside, participating in activities, learning something new, or contributing to a beloved cause by volunteering. Moderation is always key to a happy, healthy, and balanced life.
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