Children: Time Watching TV vs On the Computer
New research shows that we're using the computer more today, while watching just as much TV. All in all, this suggests that we're becoming more sedentary as a society thanks to computers and television.
In a recent analysis of data from 51,896 Americans, as part of the NHANES study, researchers estimated trends in sedentary behavior across age and across time.
They found that around 60% of American kids watched at least 1 hour of TV a day, which has remained roughly stable since 2001.
However, during that same period, the percentage of kids using the computer at least 1 hour per day has surged from 40% to nearly 60%.
Limitations of Self Reported Data
Adults: Time Watching TV vs On the Computer
American adults have similarly have begun spending more time on the computer outside of work. Over 60% of adults continue to spend more than 1 hour a day watching TV.
Meanwhile, just about half of adults now spend at least 1 hour a day on the computer outside of work.
This time may be spent gaming, social media, or just browsing the web. Work-related computer use was not included in this figures.
Kids: In Depth Trends on Time Spent on the Computer
In depth figures show that the numbers of kids who use the computer for 2 or more hours has jumped as well.
The percent of kids who use the computer for at least 2 hours a day outside of school has increased 50% from just under 20% to over 30%.
Similarly, kids who use the computer for at least 3 hours a day has increased from under 10% to over 13%.
Adults: In Depth Trends on Time Spent on the Computer
For adults in depth figures show a similar pattern. Nearly 16% of adults spend more than 3 hours a day on the computer outside of work and 31% spend at least 2 hours a day.
This shows that extensive computer use is becoming nearly normal in our society, while we continue to watch just as much TV.
Key Takeaways: The Downsides of Sitting
The primary concern of doctors when it comes to TV and Computer use is the extensive sitting and the lack of physical activity. Sitting in front of the TV or the computer represents a lost opportunity for physical activity and physical health.
Prospective evidence is accumulating that sedentary behavior could be a risk factor for CVD and diabetes mellitus morbidity and mortality and for all-cause mortality. The degree to which this is independent of the effects of MVPA needs further study.
Related: Workouts Over 40
If you want to reverse the negative effects of sitting or using the computer, try starting a workout routine!
New research shows that it is never too late to start exercising. In fact, exercising later in life might just be better for you. The benefits of exercise are very clear. Exercise reduces heart disease and leads to a longer life.
Related: Physical Activity & Commuting
Even if you spend loads of the time on the computer, you can still improve your physical and mental well-being with an active commute, either walking or biking.
Did you know that how you commute is linked to happiness? Studies across two countries have come to similar findings: people who bike or walk to work are happier.