THUNDER BAY

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The new TV season: a healthier choice

A new season of television has begun.  It’s like Christmas in September.  You get to throw away the repeats you’ve practically memorized by now and play with new episodes, new stars and new shows.

But network television isn’t the only place launching new seasons.  It’s also happening online but in a different way.

Traditional network television introduces new episodes one week at a time.  And for some, that’s not good enough.  “I don’t want to have to wait a week to see what happens next.  I don’t believe in delayed gratification.  I have no self-control and I want everything NOW!”

And that means binge-watching an entire season at once – which is certainly your prerogative if you subscribe to the numerous digital platforms.  But let’s look at this objectively.

Binge watching is, according to most medical professionals, not a healthy activity.  Or inactivity, so to speak.  And doing so regularly can lead to a risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Sitting also curves the spine into a C-shape.  Hours in this position can cause muscles to cramp and squish organs.  (Hint: that’s not good.)  It also diminishes lung capacity by one third.

Binge-watchers tend to exercise less and over-eat.  They often have trouble sleeping afterward because the blue light from televisions or monitors inhibits the natural release of melatonin, a hormone that helps people fall asleep.

So weekly television episodes – which cannot be binged unless you’ve PVR’d them for several weeks and are just now catching up – are automatically a healthier option.\

But let’s go back to the point about decreased lung capacity.  That means less oxygen to your brain and less mental focus.  And television already has a reputation for turning people into mental zombies.

And if your brain isn’t working well, how much are you going to remember of the show you’ve been viewing for several hours?  It becomes like eating an entire bag of potato chips without realizing it.  Will you remember names?  Details?  Will you be able to recite favourite lines like an episode of Friends?  Where’s the fun in watching if it doesn’t stick with you for decades?

Binge-watching is also found to be related to a lack of socialization.  Especially when you have to avoid everyone else for fear of hearing or sharing spoilers from the current season of The Walking Dead.

When there’s an entire week or two between episodes, there’s time to discuss it ad nauseam with co-workers around that infamous watercooler.  Or complain about it on social media.  I want to be able to discuss an episode of Evil that freaked me out or relive a Stumptown storyline with my gal-pals.

And with the myriad of programs to explore on TV right now, it’s a good thing it’s only one episode per week.  No one has time to binge-watch entire seasons of the over 40 new and returning shows on our local stations.  As it is, I’ll be curving my spine and decreasing my lung capacity just keeping up with premiere week.