Is Netflix Binge-Watching Damaging Your Health?

It’s tempting to settle into the most comfortable seat in your house for a marathon of your latest Netflix obsession after a long workweek. But have you considered how this habit may affect your health? Before you make a date with Netflix this weekend, learn the hidden dangers of binge watching and blood clots.

The Effects of Sitting Too Long

In a 2015 study by Deloitte, 70 percent of Americans said they binge-watch TV shows. But this habit may pose health concerns, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota.

People who watch TV “very often” were more likely to develop blood clots in the deep veins of their legs, which can be fatal, the study says.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) can travel through veins and lodge in the lungs, which can cause serious health complications, according to the study. Between 60,000 and 100,000 Americans die from VTE annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prolonged TV watching can increase the likelihood of developing VTE because it’s harder for blood to return to other parts of the body due to continued sitting, said Yasuhiko Kubota, a chief physician at Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease who was a graduate student at the University when he co-authored the study. The blood can pool in the veins, which causes blood clots, he said.

Maintaining a healthy body weight and getting an adequate amount of exercise aren’t enough to prevent the blood clots, he said.

“Even though people achieve the recommended physical activity during daytime, they may have a higher risk of VTE if they watch TV for a long time during [the] night,” Kubota said

Binge watching can also affect your mental health. Sitting inside watching TV can lead to feelings of isolation or even depression as you spend less time socializing with family and friends. By curling up on your couch all weekend, you’re missing out on the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, which are essential in boosting your overall mood.

Finally, sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for developing varicose veins, so if you have a family history or personal history of developing varicose veins, or you’re in a high-risk category, you will want to avoid binge-watching on the couch.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Health Problems

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of health problems associated with binge-watching TV.

The first, and the healthiest, is to simply not binge-watch TV at all. Finding other ways to relax and improve your mood that don’t involve sitting are best for your overall health. They may include going for a walk with friends or family, cooking a meal, gardening, or completing household chores.

The second option is to be sure you get up and move a round a little while you watch TV. Aim to do a few stretches and walk around the house a little bit between each episode.

“I think it is a good thing to enjoy watching TV. I also like to watch TV, but I would recommend people to move their legs once an hour during watching TV,” said Kubota.

Is that weekend Netflix binge sounding less appealing yet? If you are concerned about your risk of blood clots or varicose veins caused by prolonged sitting, contact us today. Elmore Medical Vein & Laser Treatment Center is the premier vein specialty medical practice in the Central Valley. Dr. Mario H. Gonzalez and his staff offer years of experience and medical expertise that you won’t find anywhere else.

Jennifer GuidryComment