We’re spending more time than ever before glued to our screens, and it’s taking its toll on our health. But the good news is that if you are physically fit and active, the impact of screen time can be reduced.
You probably already realise that sitting in front of a screen isn’t doing your body any real favours. Sitting is the new smoking after all.
But if you needed any more convincing, a new study by researchers at Glasgow University has found that screen time can increase chances of cardiovascular disease, cancer incidence and mortality, particularly in people who have lower levels of grip-strength, fitness and physical activity.
In fact, people with low grip strength or low fitness levels who spent an amount of time watching a TV or computer screen recorded almost double the impact on their risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer than those who had the highest levels of fitness and grip strength.
The long and short of it? That improving strength and fitness levels may help counterbalance the negative health effects of spending a large chunk of your free time in front of a screen.
“Our study shows that the risks associated with sedentary behaviour are not the same for everyone; individuals with low physical activity experience the greatest adverse effects,” study author Dr Carlos Celis said.
“This has potential implications for public health guidance as it suggests that specifically targeting people with low fitness and strength for interventions to reduce the time they spend sitting down may be an effective approach.”
But how to tell if you fall into the lower fitness category?
The study’s authors suggested that measuring grip strength could be an easy way of establishing who might need a little help in cutting down their screen time.
“While fitness testing can be difficult in healthcare and community settings, grip strength is a quick, simple and cheap measure, therefore it would be easy to implement as a screening tool in a variety of settings,” Celis said.
Screens have become part of our everyday lives and that looks set to remain the case for the foreseeable future. But that’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure we stay fit and active, even if it does mean tearing yourself away from Netflix for an hour.