Media Consumption and an Unhealthy Lifestyle
By Martha Michael
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, the virus took a country with millions of people operating in high gear and pressed the brakes firmly and swiftly. The changes brought about by coronavirus regulations were dramatic and caused monumental shifts in everything from our work practices to our social lives. While the changes were so drastic they boggled the mind, the effect on our physical health was a shock to the system -- which may be the most consequential.
As we have become more sedentary and focused on “screen time,” our media consumption has created new health risks from inside our own homes. However, help is available. Chiropractic care is a viable option to maintain your health when you’re stuck at home, unable to break away from being in front of a TV or computer screen for hours on end.
Shutdown Leads to Excessive Downtime
In the first phase of outbreaks, gyms were closed, sports seasons interrupted, and in some cities, residents were required to stay home except for essential purposes. Closures made otherwise active individuals spend more and more time on sofas and in desk chairs for extended periods of time.
According to online research service Medline Plus, approximately half of all American adults suffer from preventable diseases and 70 percent of those conditions are influenced by the individual’s level of physical activity. But unfortunately, most adults fail to meet the key requirements for aerobic activity. Fewer than 5 percent of American adults are physically active every day and only one-third get the recommended amount of activity per week, says the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, statistics on activity have worsened. Americans have become more sedentary, according to a Time Magazine article, and it can have lasting effects.
Only 25 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of exercise -- 150 minutes of moderate activity plus strength training. With less momentum to exercise due to the stay-at-home orders, activity levels have dropped further, which has resulted in greater health risks.
Citing a study from Cambridge Open Engage, the article reports that adults have reduced their physical activity by 32 percent since states went into various levels of lockdown in early 2020. The drop in activity level has been greater in urban areas, in part due to confinement in more restrictive settings. These marked decreases in movement have the potential to become permanent, which means a drop in overall health for modern day Americans.
Increased Media Consumption
Another shift in lifestyle due to the coronavirus pandemic is a rise in screen time, including TV viewing, computer use, and playing video games.
According to the Health and Human Services division of the U.S. government, in non-COVID times children spent an average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen, while high school kids spent at least three hours per school day playing computer or video games.
Some of the reasons that the pandemic lifestyle has led to more screen time include:
- Working from home
- More time (no commute)
- Confined to home
- Homeschooling kids
- Binge-watching as pastime
On mobile devices alone, digital media consumption is 215 percent higher than it was last year, according to Nielsen Global Media. And with people now spending an average of 463 minutes consuming a combination of TV, video streaming, gaming, and every other activity involving a screen, it adds up to more time in a sedentary position. For laid back “couch potato” time, you typically sit in one place and consume the media’s version of junk food. As your appetite for entertainment grows, that inactivity can expand -- and so can your waistline. Aside from the type, style, and genre you choose to consume, the sedentary positioning presents a physical health problem.
Managing Physical Challenges From Inactivity
To counteract the negative effects of the changing circumstances brought by the quarantine, you need to take control of your health. Americans have turned to online fitness classes and permissible outdoor activities such as hiking and jogging to get moving again during the pandemic.
The benefits of exercise include:
- Weight loss
- Strong bones, muscles, and joints
- Better sleep
- Lower levels of depression
- Lower stress levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced chance of diabetes
- Lower cholesterol
- Longer lifespan
Keep Moving With Chiropractic Care
Sitting or standing for an extended period of time can cause stress to your lower extremities and spine. This stress, known as subluxation or joint dysfunction, may cause back pain and discomfort from restricted joints. These joint dysfunctions can cause improper joint motion and decreased nerve flow to the organs, tissues, and cells of the body. A healthy spine is essential to limiting and preventing the onset of discomfort and pain.
Your spinal column is made up of 24 independent vertebrae allowing your body to move, twist and bend through everyday motion. It also helps protect the delicate central nervous system that controls and coordinates every organ, tissue, and cell of the body. Chiropractors apply a gentle, targeted movement -- usually along the spine -- to improve motion of the body’s spinal column and extremities. This is commonly known as a chiropractic adjustment.
Millions of Americans, from growing children to active seniors, have found relief from pain, as well as a pathway to wellness, with chiropractic’s natural, drug-free approach to healthcare.
A seven-year study showed that patients whose primary physician was a chiropractor experienced the following results:
- 60 percent have fewer hospital admissions
- 62 percent have fewer outpatient surgeries
- 85 percent pay less in pharmacy costs
Tips for Back Relief During Screen Time
Although standing at your computer is a good idea, the majority of us sit at computers and TV sets. You can apply some tips from leading chiropractors to relieve your back of unnecessary stress.
- Sit with a back support (such as a rolled-up towel) at the curve of your back
- Keep your hips and knees at a right angle. Use a footrest or stool if necessary
- Do not cross your legs but place your feet flat on the floor
- When standing, hold your head up, with your shoulders straight, chest forward, hips tucked in, and weight balanced evenly on both feet
The arrival of the pandemic drove the country into low gear, but it doesn’t mean you have to come to a complete stop. Though you may need to get creative, stay as active as you can. And when stiffness or pain builds up from too much time in one position, contact your chiropractor for relief.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.