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Someone binge-watching Netflix in their living room.

Binge-Watching: The Healthy Way

You’re in the midst of a Netflix binge when the little pop-up pauses your show and asks you, “Are you still watching?”

You cringe and check the time. You had intended on watching just one episode but now it’s well past your bedtime and you’re well past just one episode.

In truth, we’ve all been there. And we aren’t here to scold you. In fact, we’re here to help you develop healthier habits when it comes to binge-watching (Yes, binge-watching in a healthy way is entirely possible!).

The Problem with Binge Watching

Alright, so it’s not all good news.

A 2018 study outlined how sitting for binge-watching is basically the same as prolonged sedentary behavior leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Undeniably, sitting for long periods of time can have adverse health effects.

Further, researchers have pointed fingers at binge-watching for unhealthy activities, like mindless eating (you know when you finish off that whole bag of chips and wonder where it went?) and a lack of socialization (you can’t talk, the show is on!). In turn, this can increase your risk of obesity and mental disorders like depression.

And while it might seem like binge-watching is the opposite of good health, you can take an active approach to the problem.

The Solution to Your Binge-Watching Addiction

Generally, sedentary behavior is a no-go - no matter which way you swing it. Yes, it’s good to rest. Yes, it’s good to relax. But doing so for 10 hours a day while flying through the newest season of Ozark is not it.

Time will pass you by. And quickly, binge-watching can become a replacement for real-life endeavors and emotions. So, how can you catch up on the latest shows without jeopardizing your health or real life?

1. Set Time Caps

Limit your time binge-watching. Sure, allow yourself some time each day to watch a show or two. But don’t make it your entire life.

How can you do this? Plan ahead! Decide how many episodes you are going to watch and stick to that. If you need accountability, tell a friend, or set a timer. These shows are designed to suck you in and keep you watching. After all, that’s what entertainment is all about. By making a plan, you can limit that effect and take back control of your life.

2. Eat Healthy Snacks

A nice binge session goes hand-in-hand with popcorn, chips, chocolate, and candy (just like at the movies!). When Friday or Saturday night rolls around, dig in. But don’t fall into this habit every night!

Instead, try to create healthy snacks, like frozen grapes or even dark chocolate covered blueberries. You still get that sugar kick but you also get your fair share of nutrients.

You can also portion out your snacks. Instead of bringing the whole bag to the couch, portion out a handful in a bowl. Your binge-watching doesn’t need to turn into a binge-eating scenario as well.

3. Take Breaks

Hit pause frequently. Need to use the bathroom? Pause it. Need to stretch out because you can’t find a comfortable position? Hit pause.

Breaks can divide your show up into chunks. That way, you won’t be flying through three or five episodes without even leaving the couch. Hint: This is also a great way to get a little more movement into your life.

4. Move While You Watch

How about getting your workout in while catching up on your favorite show? Or you could fold laundry while watching. Every little bit of movement counts.

Usually, these mundane tasks require low attention. Thus, you can feast your eyes and most of your attention on the show at hand - without becoming a couch potato.

Need some workout inspiration? Check out these at-home workouts.

5. Cut It Off Before Bed

T.V. is a very stimulating activity. It can help you relax but it can also help you not sleep. When thinking about time caps on your binging, consider setting a time before bed to turn off the T.V. Ideally, this should fall within an hour or two before you go to sleep.

The next step is finding a relaxing activity to replace it with. You could perform gentle stretches, like yoga, read a book, or work on a puzzle. Find an activity you enjoy but that also calms you and your mind.

6. Watch Shows With a Friend

Like having an accountability buddy for exercise, a friend might be just what you need to prevent binge-watching in its tracks. Plan to only watch a specific show with your friend. This means you can’t go full-steam ahead without them nor can you fly through an entire season by yourself at night.

In turn, this could turn into a fun friend or partner activity. You’ll have someone to discuss the show with and can bond over it. It’s a win-win.

7. Switch Up What You Watch

Are you on your fifth reality show with no signs of stopping? Consider switching things up. Try watching a documentary or something that may prove more beneficial. This can make your binge-watching slightly better since you won’t just be binge-watching, you’ll be learning!

Get Your Binge-Watching Under Control

Try the above strategies to take back control of your life - instead of letting Netflix navigate your day for you. You’ll feel that much more fulfilled and overall happier and healthier in the end.

Interested in trying out new hobbies to replace or health-ify your binge-watching? Check out this article.

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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