It sometimes feels like modern addictions have crept up on us completely unawares. We all know about the addictive risks of alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs and make an educated personal choice over whether we use them or not.
But modern addictions do not carry such health warnings, but can take over our lives just as completely. The internet can be a hugely addictive resource. The condition is officially called PIU (Problematic Internet Use) and CIU (Compulsive Internet Use) and can relate to anything from browsing social media at all hours of the day and night, to feeling stressed unless you have seen the latest funny cat pictures doing the rounds.
Then of course there is addiction to your smartphone. This might be using the internet again, or browsing various apps, or even gaming, but now that most people have a pretty powerful computer in their pocket, the temptation can become too great.
Streaming services such as Netflix can bring both of these additions together. You can watch the best shows that everyone is talking about online, for a small price, at any time of the day and night you want. And modern shows come in long ‘box-set’ series meaning watching from start to finish can take 24 hours or more.
The upshot of this is many of us are spending time lounging on our sofas binging on ‘box-set’ series at the expense of other more important and productive things, including health and exercise.
And because Netflix is now on our phones and tablets as well as our computers and TVs, we are binging on the go as well; sat on the train, or queuing at the post office.
What this means for our health is, as you can imagine, not good. We are less mobile and active, and spend fewer hours committed to staying in shape than we should. So how can we change this?
It’s not always the most productive approach to just tell people something is bad for them and they shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t work for cigarettes, alcohol and drugs; and it won’t work for these modern addictions either.
Management is one approach, and the other is trying to combine your love of streaming services like Netflix and the BBC iPlayer with a healthier lifestyle. In this approach, you mobile devices can be a blessing as well as a curse. And here’s how, with my four ways to stay healthy while watching Netflix:
1. Watch in the Gym
Too many gym memberships are going to waste because people are sat at home watching Netflix instead. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Most machines in the gym have a spot where you can balance your smartphone or tablet, and if they don’t a holder can be bought for a matter of a few pounds from many shops.
This means you can watch your favourite shows whilst doing your usual workout. And in my experience, if you are watching a good show you are likely to do more exercise as you won’t want to finish on your bike or treadmill until the end of the episode. It can be a win-win situation.
2. Standing Desks
This is a growing trend which has been dismissed by some as a fad. But the effects it can have are indisputable. Simply standing instead of sitting doesn’t feel like more exercise, but it does burn more calories and help with muscle development too.
So instead of collapsing on the sofa, why not buy a standing desk and use that, or just stand by the kitchen counter if you like. Another option is to combine your watching with a chore you can do standing up like the ironing.
It might not seem like much, but you will truly feel the benefits in the long run.
3. Sofa Exercises
Not all exercise has to be done in the gym, there are few body weight exercises that can be done anywhere. Any movement can have a beneficial effect on your health, so even if you are sat on the sofa, you don’t have to be totally lazy.
Why not try doing some spinning (cycling on the spot) or even sit ups and push-ups while watching in the living room. Even a handful per episode can make the world of difference and you wouldn’t have to miss a scene.
4. Watch more Sports and Horror
If you are adamant you don’t want to move from your place on the sofa, the next best thing is to change what you watch.
Researches in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience have found that watching others doing exercise actually increases your own heart rate and breathing. It is a much smaller effect than actually doing exercise, but it is still nonetheless an effect.
Meanwhile, watching horror shows or thrillers that get the adrenaline pumping have been shown by British researchers to burn, on average, 113 more calories per 90 minutes than other genres.
So, there you go. My top 4 ways to stay healthy while watching Netflix. These are not big changes, but what you watch on Netflix really can affect how healthy you are.