I talk a lot about adapting to change on this blog, but one of the most significant changes that have happened over the last 40 years is the number of hours we spend in front of a TV set or computer. The sedentary aspect of all that sitting has a real impact on our health. Different studies abound, but a recent Nielson report indicates the average TV is on for 8 hours and 18 minutes a day. In his book “Manage Your Day to Day,” productivity expert Scott Belsky writes that studies using actuarial tables determined that for every hour of television watched by an adult over the age of 25, that adult’s life expectancy was reduced by 21.8 minutes. The book cites a New York Times article reporting on the research which states “An adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV.”
It’s worth noting that these results hold true even for people who exercise regularly.
And before you say you don’t watch that much, just think about it. You wake up and watch the news or “The Today Show.” You catch a few videos on your computer at work. You come home and catch up on the news. You watch your favorite sitcom, cop show, or movie. Then don’t forget the evening news or late night show. All of those little snippets add up. Plus – although the studies haven’t been done on computer use, the sedentary aspect of working at a computer isn’t dramatically different.
Maybe it’s time to either watch TV standing up, or start reading books instead.