A new study has found that people who use the internet are actually more physically active than those that don't use the internet, in a finding that contradicts the widespread assumption that time spent on surfing the web comes at the expense of an active lifestyle.
The study, conducted by Dr. Sima Zach of the Wingate Institute and Dr. Sabina Lissitsa of Ariel University, analyzed whether internet access, different kinds of internet use, and the amount of time spent on the web daily affect the chances people will take part in three kinds of physical activity: strenuous, moderate, and activities aimed at strengthening muscles. The resulting data showed no correlation between hours spent on the internet per day and extent of physical activity.
The study made use of data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of survey conducted in 2010 among 6,035 people aged 20-65.
The survey data showed that 27.9% of people had engaged in strenuous physical activity over the past three months, 36.1% had engaged in moderate activity, and 17.7% had done muscle-strengthening exercises.
74.4% of the sample polled by the CBS had used the internet during the three-month period about which they were asked. The most common purpose were searching for information (95%) with school-related (40.4%) and playing games (34.1%), less common.
The central finding of the study is that the amount of time spent on the internet does not affect the extent of physical activity one does. In addition, more specific findings indicate that the chance of doing strenuous physical activity is higher among those who use the internet for studying, social media, or downloading files; the chance of doing muscle-strengthening exercises is higher among those who use the internet for information or social media use; and the chance of doing moderate physical activity is higher among those using the internet for study-related purposes.
In opposition to other studies that claim that increased internet use leads to neglect of other activities, this study shows that the chances of partaking in every one of the three types of physical activity is higher among those who use the internet than among those who don't.
The findings show that despite expectations to the contrary, long hours spent in front of a computer screen do not lead to an inactive lifestyle, and that web surfing doesn't generally take time away from physical activity.