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Binge watchingThe idea of watching back-to-back episodes of your favorite TV show for hours on end may seem appealing at first, but studies suggest that binge watching has a negative impact on your health and when you are trying to lose weight.  Binge watching is defined as watching two to six episodes of the same show consecutively.  Keep in mind that while binge viewing technically involves watching the same show over and over again, flipping through TV channels for hours will negatively impact your health as well.  The next time you are thinking about having a Netflix Sunday Funday, consider the following.

Making Poor Food Choices: If you watch even just 30 minutes of television, then you will notice numerous commercials that are marketing unhealthy foods.  These mixed messages may subliminally make it difficult to discern what nutritious eating is and may add to making poor food choices.  Also, many binge watchers tend to pair their time on the couch with less than healthy snacks, which is counterproductive when you are trying to lose weight.

Increased Risk of Chronic Disease: Binge viewing is a sedentary behavior.  A sedentary lifestyle is associated with diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many forms of cancer.  If you are on the couch watching television for several hours a week, then you may not be getting the recommended hours of physical activity, and lack of exercise increases the risk of chronic disease.

Sleeplessness and Weight Gain: Studies have shown that exposure to the light given off by televisions may cause poor immune function, headaches, eye strain, and sleeplessness.  The glow from the TV sends a message to your brain that inhibits the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone necessary for a good night’s sleep.  Sleep deprivation is also linked to weight gain.  Those that do not get sufficient sleep are more likely to gain weight than people who get a consistent night’s rest.  Lack of sleep causes increased levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone that tells your body to replenish energy even if replenishment is not necessary, and ultimately leads to weight gain.  

Watching TV does not have to be a bad thing.  You can watch your favorite shows in moderation and still live a healthy lifestyle.  Be smarter about your TV time if your goal is to lose weight.  If you are going to watch your favorite hour-long drama, try walking on a treadmill or in place while viewing the show.  Instead of grabbing typical TV snacks, such as cookies and chips, try to veg out on carrots or broccoli instead.  Last but not least, let us state the obvious: if you have time to binge watch your favorite show, you can make the time to get active.


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