Binge-watching used to be pretty much impossible. The fact is, if you wanted to see the next episode of “Friends” or “Seinfeld,” you had to wait a week—or maybe even a whole summer.
With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, now it’s perfectly possible to watch 10 episodes of your new favorite TV show in a row on a Friday night. Even children are doing it with episodes of the popular “Full House” remake, called “Fuller House,” that are available on Netflix.
In fact, binge-watch even made its way into the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2017. It’s defined as: “to watch many or all episodes of (a TV series) in rapid succession.”
Binge-watching can be a lot of fun, especially on a cold or rainy night when it seems awfully cozy to stay in.
But there’s also a downside.
The Perils of Binge-Watching
A 2015 study done by the University of Texas at Austin found a connection between binge-watching and feelings of loneliness and depression.
Researchers conducted a survey on 319 people ages 18 to 29 to see how often they watched TV, how often they binge-watched TV and how often they felt lonely, depressed or had trouble regulating themselves.
Their findings? The more lonely and depressed the study participants were, the more likely they were to binge-watch TV, using it as a way to numb negative feelings. The study also found that those who lacked the ability to control themselves were more likely to binge-watch, even though they knew they had other things they should be doing.
What’s more, we all know that we’re likely to bust out a bag of potato chips when we’re sitting on the couch.
How to Binge-Watch in a (More) Healthy Way
Binge-watching will never be good for you, but you can help mitigate the harmful effects by doing the following:
• Watch with someone else, which makes the night more of a social activity and less isolating.
• Watch on an actual TV, not a laptop or tablet. Because the screen will be further away, it will be easier on your eyes.
• Make sure you have a glass of water to sip on and avoid excessive sugary beverages or alcoholic drinks.
• Make a plan for any snacks you’re going to eat and stick with it to avoid mindless eating.
• Try to choose healthier snacks like whole grain crackers, cheese and fruit.
• Get up after each episode to do a few jumping jackets or sit-ups, walk around the room or stretch. Sitting for a long time causes muscles to burn less fat and blood to flow more sluggishly.
• Better yet, exercise while you watch—for at least one episode. Here are 10 body-sculpting exercises to try.
At the end of the day, your health is in your hands. And little changes—like taking a mini TV break to get a few steps in—can make a big difference. For more healthy living lifestyle trends and tips, subscribe to our blog.