Diet & Nutrition

TV can’t be that bad for your health, can it?

A new study has linked binge-watching TV with blood clots.

By Cat Rodie
Game of Thrones? Suits? Outlander? We all have at least one TV show that we can happily watch for hours on end. And with the advent of TV streaming services such as Netflix, binge-watching TV has become a fairly normal activity.
In fact, watching a season of your favourite show in one go is not just normal, it’s expected. Some shows even drop an entire season in one go to satisfy the appetite of fans.
But of course, as much as we love it, binge-watching TV was bound to have some health implications. And the latest study investigating those implications has uncovered some fairly alarming results.
Researchers from Osaka University in Japan warn that watching TV for hours can increase the risk of blood clots in the lungs.
During the study, scientists examined the viewing habits of 86,000 over the course of nine years.
They found that watching TV for five or more hours a day made people more than twice as likely to die of fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) than those watching less than two and a half hours a day.
And for every extra two hour chunk of TV, the risk of fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) increased by 40%.
So is Game of Thrones actually killing us? Professor Mark Harris is a doctor and spokesperson for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. He says that the issue is more about the sitting than the TV.
“We know that seditionary behaviour is unhealthy. Certainly sitting for more than eight hours a day is unhealthy,” he says.
“Sedentary behaviour is associated with increased mortality and diabetes risk. Prolonged periods of sitting are also associated with leg clots,” he says.
Dr Harris also notes that behaviours associated with binge-watching TV might compound the negative health outcomes. “One of the things about TV watching is that we’re not just sedentary, we’re likely to be snacking at the same time,” he says.
While the health risks of binge-watching TV are evident, Dr Harris says that there is no need to ditch Netflix altogether.
“Obviously watching TV is a good way to relax. People enjoy it,” he says.
So what can we do to minimise the risks? Dr Harris says that it is best to limit the amount of time we spend sitting down. So if you have a desk job that keeps you sitting down for large chunks of the day, going home to sit in front of the TV isn’t ideal.
However, you can remedy this by standing up more, both during the day (standing or walking meetings and standing desks can help) and when you’re watching TV.
Valerie has a good solution. She plays a fitness game when she watches Suits. Every time someone says “goddam” she does 10 push ups. “Season 6, episode 2 ... 90 pushups! Those scriptwriters seriously need to expand their vocabulary,” she says.
And if you’re not a fan of push ups, Nicole has a more traditional solution. “I binge-watch while I iron. I have an "ironing room" with my own Foxtel box and Apple TV and I record everything I want and then become super productive,” she says.
But, if you love Game of Thrones more than you love ironing, you could just watch TV standing up.
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