Less Screen Time


Posted on August 22, 2013 by Chris Baird

Decreasing the amount of time you spent in front of a screen whether it be in front of a TV or computer screen, will help you be lean and quite possibly live longer. Research shows that increased levels of screen time are linked to higher levels of death-related illnesses as well as a poor body composition. The link is evident between all ages and gender and found that the relationship between screen time and mortality risk increases dramatically when you spend more than two hours of leisure free time sat in front of a TV or computer.

Abdominal fat and body fat percentage also correlates with sedentary behaviour such as watching TV, desk jobs and dependency on cars.  The term couch potato is often used when people sit and watch TV. The reason for this is that energy use and insulin sensitivity decreases when you do not move for long periods of time and we have a drop in metabolism.

Within 20 minutes of sitting, calorie burning in the body slows and gene signalling drops, blunting physiological processes in the body such as tissue repair. Over longer periods of time, bloody sugar is taken into the cells at a decreased rate, resulting in the body storing it as fat.

In one study a group of active sports students decreased their daily step intake to below 5,000 a day for  14 days. This lead to an immediate and dramatic drop in blood sugar uptake.  At the end of the 14 days there was weight gain and slower metabolism across all students. The long term affects of this study showed this could result greater risk of diabetes, more inflammation and a possible increase risk of disease and mortality. Sitting and watching your favourite programme on an evening will not lead to serious consequences if you limit your time to a maximum recommended time of 1-2 hours. But if you’re not already active then you shouldn’t be sitting and watching TV anyway, get out there and be active and do your body a world of good instead!

Spending hours watching TV or sat in front of your laptop on an evening can increase levels of Cortisol and in turn leave you feeling wired before bed. Research suggests that 30 minutes before you want to sleep you should shut turn off all screen devices to allow the body to relax and get a better night’s sleep. Eating whilst been sat in front of a screen can also have negative consequences as you brain is distracted shutting off your sense of fullness leading to you eating more than you need.

It’s inevitable that when you have a desk job you are going to clock up the screen time hours so it is important that you make the effort to be as active as possible. Instead of relying on your car walk, run or bike to work. If that’s not realistic opt for parking away from the office as a walk before and after  work will wake you up and help you be productive and in the long term. Even doing this 2 out of 5 days will make a difference

Walk around the office when you can, breaking up those sedentary stints at the desk will help get the body working. Simply taking the stairs instead of the lifts is the type of decisions you should be making.  You could always stand up bust some squats out at the desk adding files for weight!

On your lunch breaks take advantage of getting away from the desk – go to the gym (motive8 North run lunchtime classes so no excuses!), go for a run or even go for a walk. Breaking up your day with exercise will not only make you feel better but make a difference to your goals. We all work such long hours these days that having a break over lunch time (something which most of us don’t do) will refresh your mind and you’ll go back to work revved up for the afternoon.

It is important to unwind and relax but it is also important to be active so don’t be a couch potato and try and be more active instead of watching hours of TV or searching the Internet.