It is officially 2019 and if there is one thing you have probably noticed, it is how prevalent technology is in our lives.

In a recent survey, it was found that most Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours looking at a screen. And, 79 percent of the respondents of one survey felt that their screen time had increased in the last 5 years.

Our physical therapy clinic is often looking for ways to help our patients improve their health. With screen time becoming more prevalent, how does this usage affect our health?

  • Sleep
    There have been several studies that have revealed that those who have increased phone and computer usage often have more sleep disturbances. Research has shown that the light emitted from your device can affect melatonin production and trick your brain into thinking it is not time for sleep.
  • Vision
    Staring at the computer for prolonged periods of time has been known to cause strained and dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. It was found that nearsightedness in the U.S. has increased from 25% to 41.6%in the last 30 years, which may be an effect of too much screen time and not enough sunlight.
  • Weight Gain
    It was found that those who spend more time watching TV have a higher chance of being overweight and less active.
  • Overall Health
    Typically, when watching TV, using a computer, or using our phones, we are sitting. Prolonged sitting has been known to lead to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. It should also be noted that we will typically find ourselves in a hunched over posture when using devices for extended periods of time, which can lead to neck or back pain.
  • Learning
    It was found that kids and young adults who spend large amounts of time in front of the screens are more likely to develop attention disorders.
  • Social Skills
    With screen time becoming more prevalent in children, it has been found that children are spending more time watching videos or exploring the web rather than creating experiences for themselves, which causes them to be less confident. Technology also seems to be affecting social skills in some children because of the lack of face-to-face communication.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested children under 2 years of age should avoid all screen time and to limit screen time to only 1 hour for children aged 2-5.

So how can we have healthy habits when we are constantly surrounded by screens?

  • Phone-Free Zones
    Set some time aside each day without your phone. Make a rule that phones are not allowed at the dinner table or in the bedroom in order to increase family time at meals and improve sleep quality.
  • 20-20-20 Rule
    For every 20 minutes of looking at a screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This rule can help to decrease the effects of prolonged screen time on your eyes.
  • Fun Away From the Screen
    Play a board game, put together a puzzle, read a book, or go outside! There is so much that can be done that does not involve sitting behind your computer or phone. Not only can this improve your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health as well!
  • Monitor Your Posture
    If you need to look at your phone or computer, make sure you monitoring your posture. The optimal viewing angle is around 15 degrees. This will help to decrease potential neck and back pain. A physical therapist can help you to correct your posture.

With technology and screens becoming more prevalent, it is important that we acknowledge how they may be affecting our daily life and take the necessary steps to improve our health habits. If pain is keeping you indoors and stuck on your phone or television; we can help. Feel free to submit an online request for an appointment with a physical therapist.

 

Sources:

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/chp/cdrr/obesity/tvviewing/tvscreeninfo.html

https://www.rallyhealth.com/health/screen-time-affects-health

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/04/16/how-too-much-screen-time-affects-kids-bodies-and-brains/

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx

It’s officially February! Have you noticed that all of the motivation you started with at the beginning of the year is already dwindling? Perhaps the goal of losing 25 pounds isn’t exactly going as well as planned—especially after Super Bowl parties and with Valentine’s Day candy filling every aisle. Breaking bad habits and starting a healthy lifestyle can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be! Rather than being discouraged and getting off track with your goals, make this month your best one yet by starting to make small changes throughout your daily life.

Here are some tips for how to be successful this year and also ideas for goals that you can actually keep:

  1. Make Goals Attainable
    Don’t set yourself up for failure by deciding you want to lose 50 pounds this year, and then get frustrated when the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like. By starting small and celebrating those small victories, you’re more likely to continue with those new, healthier habits.
  2. Be Accountable
    Find a friend, use apps, write down your progress, do ANYTHING that forces you to track your progress and keep you on track!
  3. Be Positive!
    Life happens and you’ll make mistakes. Instead of being upset, keep your head up and plan for how you’re going to do better to reach your goals.

Need resolution suggestions that you won’t break by the end of the month? Try these:

  • Drink More Water
    You should be drinking around 64 ounces of water per day, and your body will thank you for staying more hydrated. Use an old milk jug to track your water intake or log your water with apps like Hydro Coach, Gulp, and Waterlogged.
  • Get More Sleep
    According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 26-54 should be getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Your body needs to be properly recharged to take on the day, and establishing a good sleep schedule is essential! Begin a scheduled bedtime and wake-up time and stay consistent. Also, track your sleep with apps like Sleepcycle, Sleepbot, and MotionX-24/7.
  • Be More Active
    Instead of setting a weight loss goal, why not try to increase your activity levels? Go on a 10 -minute walk every day, join a fitness class, use the stairs instead of the elevator, watch only 2 episodes of your favorite show instead of binging 12 — the possibilities are endless! Start small and find a friend to make it more fun. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, use apps like RunKeeper, SWORKIT, and JEFIT apps to track your activity!
  • Read and Challenge Your Brain More
    Get away from all the screens surrounding your life and read a book or do a puzzle! Start doing a crossword or Sudoku puzzle every day and keep your brain healthy too!
  • Call a Friend or Family Member Every Week
    This life is a fast and busy one. There are never enough hours in the day and sometimes you might find that several relationships with those around you have been put on the back burner. Stop texting and give that person a call. Make this year the one where you take a minute to keep in touch with someone you love. Maybe even take a walk while you’re on the phone and hit two of your goals at once. 😊
  • Floss
    It’s so simple, yet it seems to be one of the hardest habits to pick up. Let’s make this the year that we stop lying to our dentists about how often we floss and show our pearly whites some love.

With that being said, let’s make 2018 the best year yet! Here’s to staying on track and having a happy and healthy year! If pain is keeping you from getting active, we would love to help. Visit one of our many locations to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.