6 Physical Effects Of Binge-Watching TV


(Illustration by Jeong Suh, Bryan Christie Design)

Here’s what really happens to your body after sitting through a Game of Thrones marathon.

On Your Spine

The problem: Sitting curves your spine into a C-shape, and keeping it that way too long can cause cramped and aching muscles and smushed organs.

The solution: Consider a recliner. It’ll let your back keep the natural, better-for-you S-shape it has when you’re standing, says Galen Cranz, a posture expert and professor at the University of California Berkeley.

On Your Quads

The problem:

You get soft. People who say they watch TV “very often” are 40 percent more likely than non-TV watchers to exercise less than one hour a week, according to a six-year study of more than 15,000 adults.

The solution: Use Game of Thrones (or, hell, The Bachelor) as motivation. Seeing someone fit onscreen makes you more likely to want your body to look like his, says research from Boise State in Idaho.

See more: 14 Healthiest Snack Foods to Buy

On Your Gut

The problem:

Weight gain. A six-year U.S. study found that for every two hours of TV you watch a day, you’re 23 percent more likely to become obese (and 14 percent more likely to develop diabetes).

The solution: Avoid the Food Network. Studies show—not shockingly—that, say, hate-watching Guy Fieri makes you want to stuff your face, too.

On Your Brain
The problem: You’re a zombie (and not the badass Walking Dead kind). Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently found that a typical binge in front of fluorescent light (about four hours) before bed results in a harder time falling asleep, less REM sleep, and grogginess the next day, even after clocking eight hours. The culprit: The “blue light” TVs emit inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps you knock off.

The solution: Limit your viewing to three hours after work. Daytime bingeing won’t affect your sleep cycle.

On Your Lungs

The problem:

Sitting shrinks your lung capacity by a third, so you get less oxygen, which causes a decrease in mental focus the second your ass hits the couch.

The solution: Sit in a chair with a pillow behind your lower back—a position that helps open your lungs.

On Your Heart

The problem:

Your ticker will stop beating sooner. An Australian study of national health records found that, on average, every single hour of TV watching after age 25 reduces life expectancy by close to 22 minutes.

The solution: Researchers have discovered little mortality risk for people who watch less than an hour a day. Pick a show that’s a real mind-fuck (like Black Mirror), so you’re more likely to need time between episodes.

By Arianne Cohen

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