Previous generations grew up as a much more active generation. Now, however, many are plugging in to their electronic devices, spending more time in social isolation glued to television and moving streaming or Internet surfing. The impact is actually having detrimental effects on this aging population that never before were ‘glued’ to technology day in and day out.
A recent study with approximately 220,000 participants in Australia found that individuals over the age of 45 who sit for 11 hours or more each day – whether that be looking at electronic devices or watching TV – have a significant increased chance of death.
In fact, the study found that those who participate in this more sedentary and socially isolated lifestyle actually have a 40 percent increased chance of death within three years of the onset of such a lifestyle.
It has been dubbed the “sitting disease” according to some researchers and occurs when an individual concentrates on a device such as a cell phone, tablet, computer or television for hours on end. Being plugged into your electronic devices can lead to more than just social isolation and an increased risk of death, but it can also increase the chances of chronic illnesses such as obesity and diabetes 2.
Not only can being more sedentary cause these types of chronic illnesses, but it has been shown to significantly increase the risk of depression in a population over the age of 40.
It seems that putting down or turning off a device can mean the difference between life or death. But what if your job demands that you sit or stay plugged in? If you are more or less prescribed to a life where electronic devices control your daily routines, try using your devices against the sedentary ways. For example, try downloading an app for your phone that you can participate in health challenges with people nearby.
Use your cell phone to remind you to get up and take breaks from sitting and being socially isolated. Get a Fit Bit or a similar product and set alarms reminding you to get up and step at least 250 steps each hour to prevent chronic diseases from occurring. Begin to use the electronic devices that controlled you to increase your activities each day.
Even getting up and pulling yourself away from device usage for 5 to 15 minutes per hour can decrease your risk of premature death significantly. Also, try limiting your television time after work to 1 to 2 hour a day and instead take a walk or a hike.
Use your cell phone to download a networking group near you such that will help you get out to meet people. Many of these apps not only help you meet people to avoid social isolation and depression, but they also can help you get and stay active as well.
Instead of texting or writing an email, pick up the phone and call someone you were sending a message to and that can have the slightest effect on the potential for decreasing loneliness. Try Face Timing or Skyping your family member of friend instead of burying yourself in device consumption all alone. Devices were meant to make lives easier not control them.
For those that are less mobile, there are apps and services available to pick you up and bring you to public events that will help you be less consumed by electronic devices. An example of this is to use the Uber or Lyft apps to bring you to gathering in your neighborhood. Use your device to find out what’s happening and then get out and unplug.
All in all, electronic device usage can severely harm you by increasing the chances of chronic illnesses, depression and lead to premature death, but by using electronic devices to help make your life easier to connect with others physically and socially will help you live longer and happier.
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