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New Study Suggests How to Reduce the Impact of Screen Time


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.


What Is Considered Screen Time?

Any time you’re sedentary in front of a screen, it affects your health. Screen time might include the following:

  • TV watching
  • Working on the computer
  • Playing video games
  • Using your smartphone or tablet

How Excessive Screen Time Hurts

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.


How Much is Too Much?

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.


Science Backed Ways to Stay Healthy

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.

  • Be active during screen time. If you have a favorite show you don’t want to miss, find ways to move while you watch. Lift weights, walk on the treadmill or include bursts of physical activity during commercials.
  • Be disciplined about your gym visits. Most of us are going to continue to spend too much time on screens. Fight the associated risks with diligent exercise.
  • Find ways to be accountable. Check out our class schedule and commit to attending one with a friend. Or talk to us about working with a trainer to achieve your best health ever.

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.



Content by Missy for Fitness in Training