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Dangers of being a couch Potato

By By Bob Otieno | Feb 2nd 2013 | 2 min read
By By Bob Otieno | February 2nd 2013

By Bob Otieno

The name ‘couch potato’ tends to conjure up images of overweight, lazy unkempt slacker types. Probably you’ve heard that the more hours of television watched per day, the higher the risk of being  overweight or obese.

The long-held belief was that television junkies weighed more because they snacked more while glued to the tube. But did you know that lying down for long is unhealthy?

 Laziness and fat cells

Research shows that pre-adipocyte cells, which are fat cell precursors, change into fat cells more quickly and crank out even more fat when you lie down or sit down. These extended periods of sitting or resting horizontally where we put weight on parts of our bodies are referred to as times of ‘mechanical stretching loads.’

In simple terms, being inactive causes your body to create more fat within your already existing fat cells, so the cells themselves become larger. Constantly putting pressure on your body’s cells causes fat cells to spread out and grow bigger.

Damage is irreversible

What’s alarming is that more research is finding that the detrimental effects that prolonged leisure time has on your body can’t be ‘cancelled out’ by exercising, even if you do vigorous work-outs such as running or cycling.

This means you can’t justify spending hours stretched out in front of your television simply because you worked out that same day. Even an hour at the gym will not counteract the irreversible, harmful effects that hours of inactivity have on your body.

In one study, it was found that men who spent two or more hours per day sitting in front of a television had twice the risk of having a heart attack or cardiac arrest than those who reported watching less TV.

And men who said they spent four or more hours being sedentary had a 50 per cent higher chance of dying from lifestyle diseases. Exercise did not negate the risks associated with the hours of television watching. There are multiple other studies that found similar results.

So if you have the habit of getting glued to the screen for that favourite television series, just know that chances of inviting dangers to your health is high and inevitable.

Preventing cell damage

To be on the safe side, experts recommend limiting sedentary activity — such as time spent watching television, playing video games, or surfing the Internet — to one hour a day or less.

To prevent this irreparable damage to your body, aim to cut back your TV watching time by several hours each week.

In addition to slashing your risk of several health problems, you may find that you have more time to explore new hobbies or interests.

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