Exciting news: I’ve recently started out a side gig writing at Greatist.com, which is a super-fun health and fitness website. It’s an awesome website, full of awesome writers (te he!), and I hope you’ll check it out. Just open the site in new tab, read this post (Don’t worry, it’s pretty short!), and then go there and see what’s happening.
One of the big reasons that I love Greatist is that they have a strong policy of using scientific information for all their articles, even though the articles read like they are written by your best buds. This means that when I’m writing my articles, I get to—nerd alert!—read scientific papers on health and exercise and whatever else I happen to find on PubMed.
I recently stumbled on to a factoid that adults spend less than 10% of their time outside. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I found this statistic and got lost in a two-hour-long time suck unsuccessfully trying to relocate it.
Another study found that people spend about 1-2 hours per day outdoors during the summer (which is presumably higher than in the winter in most places). This seems pretty realistic to me.* For instance, if you’re inside at work all day long, you might get outside for an hour a day to workout, walk the dog, or eat outside and then get a little more outside time during the weekend.
So, what do people do instead of going outside?
Well, as you probably guessed from the title of this post, we all watch a lot of TV.**
Kill your TV before it kills you.
Overly dramatic? Yes! Science-based? Yes!
I took a quick look into the types of research that’s out there on television viewing and health, and it’s kinda scary. Watching TV is linked to all sorts of health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, which lead to premature death. The creepy statistic on this is that one hour of watching TV can reduce your life by more than 20 minutes—yikes! And another, even weirder finding (the kind that makes you wonder how scientists come up with kooky research ideas) was that watching deaths on TV made people more likely to buy the products advertised directly after the death scene.
I briefly looked, but could not find, a study that linked TV watching to happiness. Because my guess is that as TV watching goes up, happiness goes down.
So what to do? We should probably all just watch less TV. (Or, if we do watch TV, do it while working out so that the positive and negative benefits balance each other out.)
I also made myself this warning label for the TV. 🙂
And lastly, I personally love John Prine’s advice to blow up your TV, but that’s probably not terribly workable for most. Although I love the idea of blowing up the TV (or, better yet, selling it!), it’s not happening. Some nights just seem to be meant for watching TV and eating massive amounts of pizza.
*I had to move outside to write this article in order to have a chance of getting any sort of outside time today (and not feel like a hypocrite as I wrote this). Overall, it was quite pleasant except for two things: (1) it’s been so cold lately that I had to put on a fleece and wool socks in order to be comfortable sitting on the deck (in July, in the Northern Hemisphere), and (2) my dog found a skunk, requiring a half-hour break to try to get the skunk out.
**Including me! I definitely watch a few hours a week.