From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A couch potato refers to a person who spends most of his/her free time sitting or lying on a couch. This stereotype often refers to lazy and overweight men who watch a lot of television, sometimes in their underwear and sometimes drinking beer. Generally speaking, the term refers to a lifestyle in which children or adults don't get enough physical activity.
The term couch potato was coined by a friend of underground comics artist Robert Armstrong in the 1970s; Armstrong featured a group of couch potatoes in a series of comics featuring sedentary characters and with Jack Mingo and Allan Dodge created a satirical organization that purported to watch television as a form of meditation. With two books and endless promotion through the 1980s, the Couch Potatoes appeared in hundreds of newspapers, magazines and broadcasts, spreading its "turn on, tune in, veg out" message, garnering 7,000 members, and popularizing the term.
The condition, which predates the term, is characterized by sitting or remaining inactive for most of the day with little or no exercise.
Lack of exercise causes muscle atrophy, i.e. shrinking and weakening of the muscles and accordingly increases susceptibility to physical injury. Additionally, physical fitness is correlated with immune system function; a reduction in physical fitness is generally accompanied by a weakening of the immune system. A review in Nature Reviews Cardiology suggests that since illness or injury are associated with prolonged periods of enforced rest, such sedentariness has physiologically become linked to life-preserving metabolic and stress related responses such as inflammation that aid recovery during illness and injury but which due to being nonadaptive during health now lead to chronic diseases.
Despite the well-known benefits of physical activity, many adults and many children lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle and are not active enough to achieve these health benefits.
In the 2008 United States American National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 36% of adults were considered inactive. 59% of adult respondents never participated in vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week.
- 9 to 5
- Active travel
- Exercise trends
- Simple living
- Childhood inactivity and obesity in the United States