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Stand up while binge-watching to avoid serious health damage, experts warn

Standing while binge-watching TV series can help avoid the risks of heart disease and obesity from sitting too much, experts have advised.

Watching episodes for hours on end comes with a multitude of health risks because you are so sedentary – inactive – while you’re doing it.

As well as leading to weight gain, a lack of movement is also a risk factor for health conditions such as diabetes and blood clots in the legs, research has warned.

Experts recommend 30-minute breaks or small tasks such as doing the laundry in between episodes, as well as cutting back on late night viewing. 

Standing while binge-watching TV series can help avoid the risks of heart disease and obesity from sitting too much, experts in Ohio have claimed

Standing while binge-watching TV series can help avoid the risks of heart disease and obesity from sitting too much, experts in Ohio have claimed

Movie marathons and box-set binges are easier and comfier than ever before with a range of streaming services including Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime.

Brad Lander, a clinical psychologist at Ohio State’s medical centre, told the Washington Post there is nothing wrong with watching TV.

But he said: ‘The problem is when you do it too much. Take regular stretch breaks. Move around, every 30 minutes is best, or watch while standing for part of it.’

Sophia Tolliver, a family medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, added: ‘Take a break in the middle. 

‘Don’t be afraid to hit the pause button and do something else. Start or finish laundry, bake, walk the dog, go to the bathroom break.’

WHAT DISEASES HAS BINGE-WATCHING BEEN LINKED TO? 

Excessive TV watching is linked to eight of the major causes of death, including cancer, liver disease and Parkinson’s, a study published in 2015 found.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Michigan discovered that those who watch more than three-and-a-half hours of television a day are not only at risk of cancer and heart disease, but also diabetes, flu, pneumonia, Parkinson’s and liver disease.

People who watched between three and four hours of TV a day were 15 per cent more likely to die from a common cause of death, compared to those who watched less than one hour a day and died naturally, according to the findings in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

A study published in July 2016, also found binge-watching numerous episodes of your favourite TV series could be deadly. 

Adults who spend five hours in front of the television each day are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from a blood clot in the lungs, Japanese scientists said in the journal Circulation. 

An Australian study released in July 2017, published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, showed how binge-watching Netflix could harm physical health.

University of Queensland scientists found people who watched high levels of TV had significantly less lower-body muscle strength than their more active peers. 

Sitting in front of the TV for as little as one hour a day can increase your risk of bowel cancer, a study at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found. 

Those who lazed in front of the TV for two hours a day or more had nearly a 70 per cent increased risk, it was reported in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

Research into the health effects of binge-watching is still in its infancy, but studies have already highlighted some of its dangers.

Often binge-watching is accompanied by mindless snacking, which could lead to weight gain, Dr Tolliver warns.

She said: ‘Studies show that sitting for long periods of time can increase one’s risk for metabolic syndrome, which can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.’ 

The chances of heart disease and stroke are also high for anyone who binge-watches alone – which she said is the majority of people – because they may suffer from a lack of social connections or loneliness, Dr Tolliver said. 

A good night’s rest is also on the line, and Dr Lander warns sleep deprivation can lead to depression, memory deficits, a lack of coordination, accidents and heart problems, to name a few. 

Sleep deprivation can be caused by binge-watching too close to bed-time because blue light emitted by screens can alter our hormones.

Experts have in the past warned the wavelengths confuse the body into thinking its daytime, delaying the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which influences the body clock and helps with sleep. 

Ronald Chervin, a sleep neurologist and director of Michigan Medicine’s Sleep Disorders Centers, said he is seeing more patients who are waking in the middle of the night and resolving their restlessness with more TV.

He said: ‘There’s a wakeful element of social interaction to watching TV – people are talking, the adrenaline starts flowing.

‘Watching in the night just cements the habit of being awake during times you shouldn’t be.’ 

Dr Chervin advised people to stop looking at screens for a few hours before bed and read a book instead.

People who say they ‘very often’ sit down in front of the TV screen have almost double the risk of fatal blood clots, according to a study published in February 2018.

They may develop deep vein thrombosis, a clot in the legs, or a pulmonary embolism, in which a clot travels to the lungs.

Prolonged sitting can in some cases lead to blood clots because normal circulation of blood through the legs and feet is impaired, researchers at the University of Minnesota said in the study published in in Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis.

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