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Your Brain Probably Needs a TV Break

How much tv is too much?

Sitting in front of the television has been a popular nationwide pastime for decades. In fact, it is so popular that the average American watches more than five hours of television per day. Unfortunately, the growing trend of using tablets and smartphones to watch online shows is unlikely to slow down. The link between “couch potato” behavior and obesity and other chronic diseases are common knowledge, however, studies show that there are more than just physical consequences to excessive television watching. The amount of time spent watching TV is correlated with a greater risk to mental health.

One study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that, regardless of age, weight or gender, adults who watched more TV scored consistently lower on the General Health Questionnaire. This questionnaire measured the overall cognitive function of the subjects. Other research studies have shown that adults who engage in excessive television time are more likely to display aggressive thoughts and behaviors and experience depression than those who watch less TV. These risks were even higher for adults who did not engage in regular physical activity.

You do not have to give up watching your favorite shows or movies, but it is important to know how much is too much. It is recommended that adults and children alike not exceed two hours of recreational screen time per day -- not including computer or phone usage for work or school. It is easy to turn to the TV when you feel like there’s nothing to do, but there are in fact plenty of indoor activities that will boost your brain power. Playing board or card games with family and friends, reading, cooking a healthy dish and doing yoga are just a few hobbies that are entertaining and good for the mind.

Written by: Leslie Lewis, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern

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