Study: Too much TV may lead to earlier death

The more time you spend watching television, the greater your risk of dying at an earlier age, especially from heart disease, according to new research.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

The more time you spend watching television, the greater your risk of dying at an earlier age, especially from heart disease, according to a new study.

In a new study published Monday by the American Heart Association, people who watched four hours or more of television per day were found to be 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause.

The study followed 8,800 adults with no history of heart disease for more than six years. Researchers found that each additional hour spent watching TV increased the risk of dying from heart disease by 18 percent and the overall risk of death by 11 percent.

The results held even after researchers took into account the education level, overall health, age, smoking habits, cholesterol level and blood pressure of the participants.

Is television lethal? Not at all. But sitting in a prolonged sedentary position while watching it may be, according to the study, which was authored by team lead David Dunstan, head of the physical activity lab at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria, Australia.

Why? All that sitting means a lack of muscle movement. When muscles stay inactive for too long, your metabolism can be disrupted.

But a real problem is that while going for a run helps your health in the long term, it doesn't reverse the inactivity of watching TV. According to the study, those who watched more TV were still at a higher risk of dying during the study, despite the same exercise level as those who watched less television.

In other words: all that everyday walking and moving is actually contributing to your health in a measurably different way than a hardcore workout, according to the study.

Adults in the United States average up to five hours of television watching per day. Adults in Australia, where the study was conducted, average about three hours a day.

Since television is so heavily favored a leisure activity, the amount of television a person watches is a good index of the overall time they spend sitting, according to the study. The study also controlled for diet quality and calorie intake, to eliminate TV snacking as a contributing factor.

The bottom line: the problem isn't just TV; it's technology in general. The white collar office worker -- trapped in a cubicle, fixated on a computer screen for hours on end -- has had healthy basic activity engineered right out of his or her work day.

My advice? Stop reading this post and go for a walk outside. It's a lovely day.

[via CNN]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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