“Sitting, the new smoking? Study finds increased television watching has a 65% greater risk of developing physical disabilities later in life.”

With the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, more of us are falling into the comforts of a warm blanket and a good Netflix series. While this change in routine may seem minor, it can come with significant negative effects on your health.  Rise in popularity of television streaming services are further prolonging the amount of time a person remains sedentary, as there no longer are built in commercial breaks and consumers are able to watch multiple episodes of a show in succession.

A new study assessed the impact of television watching and physical activity, and how this correlated to a person’s disability level. The study collected data from 134,269 participants and analyzed participants self-reported television viewing time, other sedentary behaviors (computer work, napping, commute etc.), and an average amount of physical activity per week. Data was collected from the years 1995-1996, and then again from the time period of 2004-2005. The study concluded that adults who spend more than 5 hours a day watching television and fewer than 3 hours a week being physically active almost triple their chance of later experiencing a mobility disability, compared to those who watch television less than 2 hours per day. The study also found that the odds of mobility disability dropped progressively as the frequency and intensity of physical activity increased.

The American Health Association supports the following tips to build in physical activity throughout the day:

  • Set a timer to get up and move around every 30 minutes when sedentary
  • Stand or pace around the house when talking on the telephone
  • Make plans to meet someone at a local store or shopping mall to walk when weather isn’t favorable to being outside
  • Do housework yourself instead of hiring someone
  • Go for a short walk, even just 5 minutes before lunch, dinner, or both

These tips along, along with regular exercise and strength training, can help to keep you healthy and disability-free, allowing you to continue to enjoy doing things you love later in life!

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