A recent study out of Australia that can be found in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has some released some pretty disturbing and shocking findings. According to the study’s lead author, David Dunstan, just 1 hour of face to face time with the television carries an 18% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and an 11% increased risk of death from all causes.
The study also found that watching more than 4 hours of television a day increased the likelihood of death from all causes by 46%, and cardiovascular disease in particular by a face slapping 80% percent. And here is the kicker: the link between television and death still persisted even after factoring in diet and exercise as variables. I know that I have readers all across the world, so instead of speaking about the United States and leaving it at that, I’ve included a user-friendly map where you can find out how your country measures up in terms of television consumption:
Now I’ll be completely honest with you – I don’t have access to the entire study. I have no idea how well it was put together nor how valid these claims are, but I do know one thing: sitting on your booty for upwards of 40 hours a week can’t possibly be good for one’s health. We are constantly being forced to do more and more with the same amount of time that we’ve always had, which usually means lots of sitting. When you think about it, most of us are simply moving from chair to chair throughout the day – from the chairs in our offices, to the seats of our cars, right on home to log some more cushion time.
The main take away point from this study isn’t that television is the devil, but that we need to, as the great prophet Ned Flanders would say, stop being so gosh diddily-darn inactive. As humans we are designed for movement, and if we weren’t — this is clearly backed up by endless hours of scientific research on the process of evolution — we would just be limbless egg-shaped people with heads. Even then we would be forced to roll around a lot to get where we were going, and would probably be awesome break dancers to boot. But I digress. Movement is crucial to our overall health, from the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism, the reduction of postural imbalances, muscle group (i.e. hamstring) inflexibility, and an entire host of other benefits that we may not even be aware of yet.
Personal story time: I’m what you would call a FBJ – Facebook Junkie for those not in the know of my own ridiculous in-head language – to the point where if Facebook were crack, and they were casting for a New Jack City remake, I’d be their Pookie. I took the leap and deactivated it for a couple of months, which drastically reduced my internet sitting time, so now all of a sudden I have more time for walks, rock climbing, archery and motosurfing.
So, here is my challenge to you: take a look at your life and identify one cheek-to-cushion vice of yours. After doing that, explore your options and see how you can turn it into something more active – or better yet, substitute an hour of that activity out for something more movement based. For instance, if you like watching television, at the very least stand up and move around every now and then while doing so. An even more awesome idea is to do some jumping jacks, pushups or a wide variety of other exercises during the commercial breaks, although my favorite is to act out a scene from the movie you’re watching – Enter The Dragon, Weekend at Bernie’s and Flash Dance are particularly dope.
If you take the findings of this study to its extreme conclusion, between American Idol, Youtube and World of Warcraft, we are all gonna die! But it doesn’t have to be that way at all. As long as you have at least once functioning limb, there are always options for movement, even during a busy work schedule. Take for instance my friend Josie who, instead of sitting down all day while on the job, took to the stairwell throughout the day to repeatedly show them who the boss was. You can check out her hilarious telling of this account here.
That’s it, y’all. Have a great weekend wherever you are, and get moving!