TV and Fitness? Turn That TV Off!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Is TV healthy or unhealthy? Some research suggests that too much TV viewing is connected with physical inactivity and poor health?
Why is it then, that there are more and more TV’s in health clubs? Is it really necessary with more news or more soap during your one hour of fitness?

Independently of discussions about the poor quality (unhealthy effect) of certain TV-programs, TV and fitness is a really bad cocktail … having in mind, though, that there is a difference between cardio and strength fitness in combination with TV viewing.

Cardio fitness on cardiovascular machines, is a cyclic, repetitive, simple movement on an apparatus, where you do not have to think overly much or concentrate on keeping the balance; you primarily have to exert energy to get your heart rate up. So TV viewing and cardio is probably not directly physically harmful – and may even be a requirement for some in order to get the training done.
Note: TV’s should be in the cardio department and directly in front of the cardio equipment. If the exerciser must turn her/his head to see the screen (for ½+ hour at a time), it could affect the body position, leading to poor posture, misalignment, and overuse injury?
TV’s should be on ‘mute’ (maybe use of earphones) in order not to distract other exercisers. Noise (from many sources simultaneously) increases stress and distracts,
so concentration is lost, training intensity is reduced and safety is compromised.

Fitness strength training and TV viewing is another matter.

Strength training, especially with free weights, requires concentration, balancing with either your bodyweight or (heavy) weights and focusing on technique, proper exercise execution, in order for the exercise to work as intended and not to harm yourself or others.
TV in a strength training gym (room) should not be seen, as TV in this environment may lead to dangerous distractions, which may cause accidents, dropping weights, tripping or twisting, or overuse injuries because of poor alignment and technique.

Another risk factor entirely – but quite noticeable in many gyms with TV’s – is, that the exercisers go off into a trance, stand or sit completely caught up by the TV-programs, wasting time with far too many rest-pauses, which reduces the quality of training for oneself as well as others, as you 1) lose intensity and focus and 2) occupy benches and machines for long periods of time.

Here is a call for fitness centres and users: Find others ways of making fitness motivating and in return get better, more focused, time-efficient and healthy workouts.

Here is another 10 reasons to turn your TV off!  

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