To cap it all, video on demand streaming services, such as Netflix, allow us to enjoy our favorite content anytime and, pretty much, anywhere. That being such a cool option, it can, however, lead to pernicious habits. One of them is 'binge-watching', which can keep us vegging out in front of the screen for several hours. For some it isn't just a 'seasonal' behavior, but part of their daily routine... and this is when problems can arise.
New studies keep pointing out the dangers related to watching hours and hours of tv in one sitting. And, of course, that also applies to playing videogames or spending too much time using our laptops, tablets and other electronic devices. You may think that many jobs force us to feed such bad habits and, while that's true, we can, however, take advantage of our free time to make up for those long and sedentary work days.
Two Australian researchers, Carol Maher and Tim Olds, have created an interactive body map that specifically describes the impact of physical inactivity on our body. Based on this information, along with previous studies, it's pretty accurate to determine that, taken to its extreme, binge-watching could put our life at risk. How? By increasing our odds of developing the following illnesses:
1- Cardiovascular diseases
According to such information, published on 'The Conversation', people who are physically inactive have a 57% higher risk of developing a heart disease, which in turn can lead to heart attacks (with a 82% higher prevalence in those who don't do any kind of exercise on a regular basis). In the past, the American Heart Association had already warned about watching too much TV, which could double the risk of premature death in those who spend three or more hours in front of the screen.
You may not be surprised here. There are so many things somehow connected to cancer that, sometimes, we don't even know what's good or bad anymore. Yet, there's evidence that inactivity is highly associated with different kinds of cancer and it can increase the risk up to: pancreatic (122%), esophageal (72%), liver (37%) or colon (19%) cancer, just to mention some.
People living in the developed world have around an 18% chance of suffering from a stroke in the course of their lifetime. However, those figures significantly change when it comes to couch potatoes, whose risk rises up to 37%. Don't forget that inactivity is linked to problems such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, which in turn are related to strokes.
4- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic diseases stand out as other major problems when dealing with too much TV exposure. Among this, we have to talk about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes damage to the lungs over time and, as a result, a very poor quality of life (having shortness of breath while performing simple tasks). And the statistics are pretty dramatic considering that binge-watching could make you 89% more likely to struggle with this condition. Under normal circumstances, the number of people affected by this chronic illness in the first world is as little as 1.7%, so we should ponder on it.
5- Alzheimer's disease
Leaving the genetic component aside, the lack of physical activity is surprisingly connected with Alzheimer's disease. Recent findings have linked sedentary lifestyles, including watching TV in high doses, to lower cognitive function later on, starting in the middle age. In order to prevent dementia, experts recommend us to do regular exercise, follow a healthy diet, limit alcohol intake and quit smoking.
As you can see, getting all cozy on the couch for too long does have consequences. And we haven't even talked about the psychological ones, with depression as the most prevalent condition. Heavy TV watchers often report having more anxiety and less happiness than those who do more social activities and keep their bodies in motion. Also, TV binging can potentially lead to addiction, so here's another reason why we need to be aware of our behavior.
TV is fantastic, and so is resting our bodies while enjoying Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead or House of Cards. But do yourself a favour and don't abuse it!