Research consistently links a sedentary lifestyle to a number of hazardous health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. A lack of mobility is also associated with chronic back pain, as excess weight and muscle tension contribute to the condition.
Recently, researchers tracked over 13,000 young individuals over a median of 8.2 years to assess whether time spent watching TV, driving or using the computer correlated with any cause of early mortality. Over the course of the study period there were 97 deaths, 46 of which were attributed to cancer and 19 to cardiovascular problems. While computer use and driving time didn’t correlate with increased incidence of mortality, the researchers found that individuals who spent three or more hours a day watching TV had a twofold higher risk of dying young compared to those who reported watching TV for one hour or less a day.
See more on this study at www.sciencedaily.com.
It is reasonable to suppose that TV-watching correlated with mortality due to the sedentary nature of the activity. Avoiding the health risks associated with sitting in front of the TV doesn’t require you to get rid of your TV set and go for a run every time you want to watch a show. You can take a few simple steps to get more exercise.
• Save TV time for night time.
• Spend 30 minutes (about one short show) exercising while watching TV. You can perform core exercises such as planks, bodyweight moves such as pushups or walk on a treadmill while enjoying your program.
• Make commercial time exercise time. Get in a couple minutes of high-intensity cardio (jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.) until your show starts up again.
• If you have a laptop, make use of it. Instead of sitting down to watch the news, pull up a program online and listen/watch while you cook or do housework. Many quality news programs can be found online, such as PBS Newshour.
If you have lower back pain, remaining physically active will be an important component of pain management and recovery. Movement keeps your muscles and ligaments strong; it also promotes flexibility. You can incorporate more movement into your day by getting creative, taking ordinarily sedentary activities and making them more physically engaging. This doesn’t end with TV; if you work on a laptop, find a surface at about navel height to place it on and stand while you work. You can also use a stepper machine or mini treadmill to be more active while standing at the computer.
Being more physically active doesn’t demand giving up traditionally sedentary activities. With a little creativity and motivation, you can have your leisure time activities and exercise, too.