If you spend too much time on your cell phone and computer or in front of the TV, you probably already know it. A new study published in open access journal BMC Medicine indicates the negative health impact of too much screen time might be reduced if you stay healthy and fit.
Any time you’re sedentary in front of a screen, it affects your health. Screen time might include the following:
If you spend a large portion of your day looking at a screen, it’s bad for your brain. Psychology Today cites studies that use neuro-imaging to associate screen time with structural changes in the regions of the brain that handle feelings, decisions and concentration. Over usage leads to shrinking gray matter and compromised white matter.
Researchers also found too much time sitting in front of the TV or computer can double your risk of death from heart disease and cancer, especially if you’re out of shape. The study followed 391,089 participants and tested the correlation between screen time and grip strength and physical activity.
They found the connection between discretionary screen time and poor health outcomes was highest with people who had low grip strength, poor overall fitness and little physical activity. Conversely, those who had high amounts of screen time and also prioritized healthy activity levels were less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and other conditions that occur with a sedentary lifestyle.
It’s hard to know how much is too much. MIT says the average American spends more than 24 hours a week using the Internet. In 2000, that number was only around nine hours a week. Television time often adds many hours to that total. That’s a lot of screen time.
Almost a third of individuals use the TV and computer for at least two hours a day. A significant percentage spend more than five hours on their screens every day. People who spend too much time on their screens are more likely to make unhealthy eating choices, be overweight and have fewer hours of sleep.
You may not even be aware of how much time you spend looking at a screen. If you’re constantly reaching for your phone, try downloading an app to track your daily usage. Freedom is available as a free download for iPhone and Space is available for iPhone and Android.
Fit isn’t a destination or a body fat percentage. It’s a way of life. If you want to know how we can help you reach your goals, get in touch today.