Technology can be an amazing asset on your health journey. It helps you count steps, log food, track sleep, and stay in touch with friends and family. But have you ever considered what all the lights on your electronic devices or the ring, ring, ring of your cellphone are doing to your nerves and your body?
It’s worth looking into: A large multi-country study found that the higher the rate of ownership of computers and TVs in each country, the lower the citizens’ level of physical activity, the more hours spent sitting, the greater the number of calories consumed, and the higher the average body mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight).
All these reasons and more are why the fifth and final component of My 5 is to Unplug from all electronic devices for at least 60 consecutive minutes a day. You’ll be amazed at how your mind quiets, your stress recedes, and more free time opens up within your day.
Ditch These Devices For One Hour a Day
- TV: Watching TV is associated with mindless overeating, poor food choices, and obesity. The more hours you watch, the heavier you’re likely to be. A study of more than 42,600 Canadian adults found that those who spent 21 more more hours a week watching TV were almost twice as likely to be obese as those who watched 5 or fewer hours a week.
- Computer: Whether you’re using a computer to watch a movie, check social media, or write a paper, the implications are similar as they are when watching TV. That’s because both activities almost always involve sitting, often for hours at a time. When researchers surveyed 25,000 Japanese employees, they found that working at a computer for more than 5 hours a day significantly increased mental health and sleep-related problems. Another study of more than 2,600 Australian adults found that those who reported high computer or Internet leisure time use were one and a half time more likely to be overweight and slightly more than two and a half times more likely to be obese than participants who used neither.
- Tablet: A tablet functions much in the same way a computer does, but a new risk is also emerging: media multitasking—the simultaneous use of a smartphone, computer, or tablet. Even though the use of tablets is not as widespread as laptop computers or smartphones, the simultaneous use of television and tablets skyrocketed from 11 percent to 44 percent in 2013 alone. And research shows that increased media multitasking may lead to higher rates of depression and social anxiety.
- Cellphone: Researchers found that American college students who used their phones most frequently were less physically active and less cardiovascularly fit than those who used their phones less. In preliminary research, Israeli scientists have also found a possible link between a sluggish thyroid (which can cause weight gain) and exposure to electromagnetic fields similar to those emitted by cell phones.
The Best Time to Detach
There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription for when to schedule your electronics-free hour, but here are a few suggestions.Early morning. While the rest of your family is still sleeping or before anything else can grab your attention keep the electronics off and do something healthy for yourself. Take a walk, pray, meditate, or write in your journal—anything that enriches your life.
- Early morning. While the rest of your family is still sleeping or before anything else can grab your attention keep the electronics off and do something healthy for yourself. Take a walk, pray, meditate, or write in your journal—anything that enriches your life.
- During dinner. Only 40 percent of families eat together several times a week, despite the fact that research shows it can keep kids from becoming obese. Schedule more family dinners and make them off limits for electronics. Use the time to plan the meal, cook together, eat mindfully, and catch up on one another’s day.
- Nighttime. One hour before bed is an ideal time to disconnect. That’s because TVs computers, smartphones, and tablets all emit blue light, which interferes with melatonin production and thus your sleep.
That’s it! The last step in My 5 plan. If you follow all five, you’ll be well on your way to losing five pounds after the first week. For more information, pick up a copy of my book, 5 Pounds: The Breakthrough 5-Day Plan to Jump-Start Rapid Weight Loss (And Never Gain it Back!) or connect with me Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.