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Too Much Television During COVID-19?

As we all shelter in our homes for the foreseeable future, our screens may be getting more of a workout than our muscles. And is there such a thing as too much television during the time of COVID-19 in our world? To help us all find a bit more balance in our new normal, we've pulled together some tips and ideas to keep our activity levels up and the screen times down - or at least more helpful!

How Much Screen Time Are You Getting?

On average, adults spend 11 hours a day staring at some sort of screen, or more than two thirds of their waking hours. We are constantly bombarded by screens, whether they are, television, social media and internet, computers, smart phones, or tablets. Our ever increasing dependence on screens for pleasure has resulted in studies showing kids' brains reacting to screens the same way the brain reacts to addictive substances, always wanting more.

For the first time in recorded history, the lifespan of young adults today is predicted to be less than that of their parents' generation. There’s little doubt that the shift from a culture that valued time outdoors and physical activity to one that has embraced the convenience of sedentary connectivity is part of the problem.

Move It!

A sedentary lifestyle, i.e. spending too much time on the couch without exercising, is becoming more prevalent with televisions, computers, tablets and smartphones serving as today’s primary form of entertainment. An inactive lifestyle may lead to physical issues including weight gain, loss of muscle strength and endurance, bone loss, and an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Breaking free of screen dependence is a crucial component of living a healthy lifestyle, and replacing some of the time you spend in front of technology can be easy and fun.

Physical Activity Is Not One Size Fits All

Thinking about incorporating exercise into your daily routine can be intimidating if you’re not comfortable with the idea of joining a gym or workout class. The good news is you can get all the exercise you need at home or in your local community.

There are many ways to move your body that provide lasting benefits when done regularly. Taking a walk outside if the weather permits or indoors in the winter burns calories and helps keep your muscles loose and your joints functioning well. Stretching and basic bodyweight and dumbbell exercises at home can help maintain muscle strength and coordination. The type of exercise you choose isn’t important as long as it’s something you can do regularly and without pain. You can even use those screens to attend virtual workout classes both on social media or via apps on your smart tv.

As always consult your provider before taking on any new or increased activity or exercise regimen.

The Mental Side

Just because you’re not exercising all the time doesn’t mean you need to be using your screens throughout the day. There are a variety of rewarding non-screen activities you can participate in including doing puzzles, reading, making art, playing or listening to music, stretching, meditating, gardening, walking, cooking, and spending time outdoors. Even taking a nap can keep you from getting too much screen time and recharge your body and mind.

What’s In It For You

In addition to improved health and wellbeing, reducing screen time and increasing your activity level may improve your mental health, quality of sleep and personal relationships. Studies how spending less time in front of a screen reduces eye strain and headaches while increasing your ability to focus. It is likely you’ll experience increased energy and start looking forward to the various activities you’ve discovered, adding value to every day. Often, making a commitment to being more active improves numerous aspects of your wellbeing.

Challenge Yourself

If you’re inspired to make a positive change in your life, it may be time to challenge yourself. Begin by recording the number of hours you spend in front of a screen for the next week, and then commit to halving those hours for the next three weeks. Take time to plan outings and prepare activities to keep you busy. Tell those close to you of your intentions and why you’re doing this. The goal is to see how you feel after a few weeks of shifting priorities.

We all want to live our best life, but the allure of technology makes it easy to fall into patterns that are not beneficial. Making a commitment to moving more and decreasing your screen time may make this year your best yet.

If You Must…

While reducing screen time and binge watching is part of a healthier lifestyle, it’s fine to continue to spend some time with your favorite screens, especially now we are supposed to be practicing social distancing. One way to mitigate the effects of sitting for long periods of time is to make it fun to incorporate exercise into whatever you’re watching.

If you’re a fan of The Office, commit to doing a plank while the theme song plays, 20 lunges when someone answers their phone, and five burpees when Jim plays a prank on Dwight. When you just can’t get away from that New Girl marathon make sure to knock out five squats when Schmidt over-pronounces a word or 10 pushups when Nick makes his turtle face. You can create workout regimens for any show you elect to watch frequently and up the challenge according to your fitness! Incorporating fun ways to stay active while enjoying your favorite programs can give you the best of both worlds.