We’re not saying give up TV entirely – just limit the amount of time you spend in front of it. There are a number of good reasons for us to cut back on the time spent in front of the TV screen. Here are some of them:
Spending hours each night watching television is bad for our physical health. There are studies indicating that watching TV for more than 4 hours every day can increase our chances of suffering a heart attack by more than 80 per cent. To be fit and healthy, our bodies need to move. We need regular exercise and we don’t get much of that if we spend hours and hours watching TV. Once we pass 50 it’s absolutely essential that we exercise regularly if we are going to maintain a healthy mind and body.
“Use it or lose it” applies to our mind as well as our body. To keep the brain active and to reduce the chance of getting dementia, we need mental stimulation and challenges. Most television does not offer any mental challenge. Watching the great majority of programs is passive recreation where the mind just absorbs the program content. There is no requirement to think or respond.
There is a real danger of older people becoming more isolated if they spend a lot of time watching television and less time socialising with friends and neighbours. This is particularly true for single retirees. Isolation and withdrawal are steps on the way to depression. Because it’s” free” and very easy to watch, there’s lots of temptation to spend 2, 4 or even 8 hours a day in front of the screen. It isn’t a friend and it’s a big mistake to give up socialising with real people to spend more time in fantasy land.
Spending hours in front of television tends to create boredom as we remove ourselves from the reality and enjoyment of life. Swapping real life experiences and challenges for the artificial world of the television program provides us with little stimulation or satisfaction. When boredom is added to all the other negatives mentioned above, we end up with a pretty bad result.
A lifestyle that does not include full time work gives us a lot of time to fill. How we do it will have a major bearing on our wellbeing and happiness. If we can use this extra leisure time for creative, stimulating activities which expand our minds and make us feel useful members of the community, then we will be happier and healthier people. You don’t have to save the world – just spend more time with friends and acquaintances, doing things that make you feel good.
Do you watch a lot of TV? If so, what do you watch and how does it affect your health? If not, what do you do instead to keep your mind active? Tell us below.
We hope to see you celebrating the over 60 life with other over 60s on February 17 2015.