Get Off the Couch Now! Inactivity and Binge Watching Can Cause Loss of the Ability to Walk
Take a minute to do a quick calculation of the hours you sit each day, and be honest with yourself.
Let’s say you commute to work one hour in the morning and one hour after you’re done. That’s two hours, and once combined with the 8-hour time spent at work (assuming you have a desk job) that’s already ten hours.
But that’s not all; chances are you come straight home, have some dinner and lay back on your couch and relax while watching tv (or any other activity like listening to the radio or reading). That’s another 3-4 hours of sitting, which makes it a total of 13-14.
Being so immobile on a daily basis does more than just raise one’s risk of all kinds of diseases. There is more and more evidence each day that such habits, over the years, can actually reduce older people’s ability to move around for longer periods and distances.
In fact, a study involving the sitting habits of participants between the ages of 50 and 70, had surveyed them for about 8-10 years.
The individuals who sat for the longest periods during the course of those years had three times the risk of difficulty walking, in comparison to their more active counterparts.
Some of those participants ended up with an inability to walk at all. The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences had published this study.
The main culprits here were prolonged sitting and binging on TV, particularly when combined with low levels of physical activity, to begin with.
When it comes to young bodies, they may easily rebound from such ‘sitting marathons’ with a mere hour at the gym. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the middle-aged and the elderly bodies.
Endangering Your Health
George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health’s epidemiologist Loretta DiPietro claims that watching TV for hours, especially during the evenings, is one of the most harmful and dangerous habits for senior citizens.
And what’s even scarier is that the research was done between 1995-2000 – the era prior to the rampant online streaming of movies, series, and TV shows. Which can only mean one thing, now it’s gotten even worse.
This is because, unlike in the past (when one show ended you got up and moved around), nowadays it is possible to switch from one show to the other without pausing at all – “the miracle of no commercial breaks” – which means hours and hours of sitting and binge watching,
And even though being sedentary while at work also poses a risk, at the very least employees get up now and again, go down the hall to the bathroom or printer, or take a lunch break.
At least, that’s what they used to do, but in this modern age, even such light activities are slowly being rooted out of our daily routines.
Now we have the “mighty internet” to do our shopping, order food, write messages and even do some gossiping. Gossip is something colleagues used to do while going down the hall or gathering for a coffee break or a smoke.
The truth of the matter is, we should all get back to doing even light activities, such as going out to get the mail, garden work or simply walking around the house making sure everything is in order. Brisk walks throughout the neighborhood are also an excellent idea to get those bones moving.
Get Moving Before It’s Too Late
It’s frightening but also eye-opening to know that those who spent the most time on their sofas binge watching TV had a 65% higher risk of developing a mobility disability.
The simple rule applies here: if you don’t use it, you lose it. DiPietro offers a simple solution: get up every half an hour while watching tv or sitting in general.
Take a break before each episode by getting up, doing some jumping or kicking, marching in place…Really, anything as long as you keep moving for about a minute or two before sitting back down.
That doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Especially when you consider the reward of preventing any serious issues which might stem from this immobility most people seem to have adopted.
For one thing, you will be improving your heart health, and we’re sure you’ll agree that is no small matter. Dr. Andrew Freeman, who represents the American College of Cardiology, states that people should do even more than that. They should be active enough to end up breathless.
That doesn’t mean jogging or running. It could be something fairly simple like walking around during the day.
Dr. Freeman went on to explain that, in an older population, if one is already leading a sedentary lifestyle, the least they could do was to be as active as possible – it does not matter what they did.
And while that may sound like common sense, the results of the studies show that people still ignore it. Dr. Freeman claims that even as little as 5 minutes of brisk movement a day, would be more than enough.
Or, if you prefer a slower pace, 10 minutes of slow-paced walking each day. You can try joining a walking group for some extra motivation!
Whether a speedier or a more leisurely pace, the same thing applies – keep moving! Exercise is nature’s best medicine, after all. The main thing is to take as many breaks as you can from sitting in front of a screen, whether a computer screen, or a TV screen, makes no difference whatsoever.
Stay healthy and active, dear readers.