Watching too much television or too much time in front of your computer screen might take years off your life.
The more time you spend watching TV, the greater your risk of dying at an earlier age, especially from heart disease, researchers found. The study followed 8,800 adults with no history of heart disease for more than six years. Compared to those who watched less than two hours of TV per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause.
- The real life shortener appears to be that sitting is the “default position” for TV and computer monitor viewing.
- Exercise doesn’t necessarily make up for long sessions in front of the tube.
- Snacking is unlikely to explain the increased risk of death observed in the study.
- Exercise is important for health, but avoiding prolonged periods of sitting is nearly as important.
Sitting Position Harmful for Health
Television isn’t lethal in and of itself; the real problem appears to be that sitting is the “default position” for TV viewing. Prolonged watching a screen equals a lot of sitting, which invariably means there’s an absence of muscle movement. If your muscles stay inactive for too long, it can disrupt your metabolism.
When they compared groups of adults who exercised the same amount but watched varying amounts of TV, those who watched more TV were still at a higher risk of dying during the study.
You can be active and also watch high amounts of television. Television isn’t necessarily replacing our exercise time, but it is replacing everyday, “non-sweaty” movements as basic as standing and walking from room to room. The positive health effects of these seemingly negligible activities are underestimated. Modern technology has virtually engineered a lot of incidental, non-sweaty activity out of our lives.
Reading or doing homework doesn’t seem to be associated with risk factors as much as television viewing time.
Technology has made people more sedentary in general. More and more of us sit at desks, glued to computer screens. Instead of walking down the hall to speak with co-workers, we email them.
Commercials Are Made For Walking
Nobody says you have to sit in front of a computer. Get a few books to prop up your monitor and stand up. Stand while talking on the phone. Take meetings while you’re walking — anything to get more activity during the day. Even watching TV provides opportunities to move around, Dunstan says. Commercial breaks are built-in excuses to stand up and stretch your legs for a minute or two.
The bottom line? Exercise is important for health, but avoiding prolonged periods of sitting is nearly as important to avoid heart disease and dying. Just get up and move about during the day. The more you move, the greater the health benefits are likely to be.