Death by TV?

Aussies Say Too Much Tube Time Increases Risk of Death From Cardiovascular Disease by 80 Percent

| Feb 4, 2010

Australian researchers who tracked the TV viewing habits of 8,800 people over a six-year span have some sobering statistics for people who love the tube too well: (1) If you watch TV more than two and up to four hours a day, your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease increases by 19 percent. (2) If your viewing habit is more than four hours a day, your risk of death from cardiovascular disease skyrockets by 80 percent.

In fact, every hour beyond two hours of sedentary viewing ups the risk by 18 percent.

The Australians, led by David Dunstan from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, also found that even if heavy TV viewers routinely exercise 30 or 45 minutes a day, they are just as susceptible to the higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The reason why, the researchers think, is that humans are not built to sit for long periods. Prolonged inactivity affects how the body metabolizes fats and other substances that increase cardiovascular risks. They add that although common wisdom says that regular "heavy sweat" exercises, like treadmill runs, bike rides, or jogging, can counter the ill-effects of too much TV, they really can't.

What's needed, the researchers say, is the kind of ordinary "walking around" things that people do all day long-unloading the dishwasher, fixing a minor leak, pushing a shopping cart at the supermarket, walking the dog, mowing the lawn-any routine activity that keeps the body in motion and helps it metabolize substances that can quickly accumulate from inactivity.

In short, even heavy TV viewers should find ways to keep moving while they're watching.  These can include standing and folding laundry while watching, doing stretching exercises or running in place, or changing channels manually instead of with a remote-anything that keeps the body moving and flexible.

And it's not just sitting in front of the telly that can contribute to cardio risks. Riding a commuter bus or train and then sitting at a desk for eight hours is an equivalent form of sedentary behavior. Some people mitigate their risks by walking up and down train aisles or standing on bus rides, using their constant small adjustments to bumps and jerks as a low-key form of exercise.

At the office, some people use adjustable-height desks that allow them to stand as they work, shifting from one foot to another and allowing free blood flow in their legs. 

Subjects averaged 50 years of age when the study began in 1999-2000.  The study results were recently published in Circulation magazine.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Health Research, Heart Care & Heart Disease, Type 2 Issues, Weight Loss

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Posted by Anonymous on 4 February 2010

The researchers should have compared their research subjects to the millions of office workers who sit at a desk up to 8 hours a day using computers in their work. Assuming their research is accurate millions of people are at risk for the same disease outcome who wasn't at home working TV all day long. I have some doubts about the validity of this study.

Posted by Anonymous on 5 February 2010

I am just not buying it. "watch 2-4 hours and your risk of dying increases by 19%," then, "watch more than 4 hours and your risk of death skyrockets BY 80%." Does that mean INCREASES to 34% (19% + an additional 80% of the 19%)???

So the group that exercised 30-45 minutes a day routinely saw no reduction in "risk of death" compared to the sedantary group? No, I am not buying this concept!

Posted by Anonymous on 8 February 2010

I wonder why a journal like "Circulation" accepted this for publication? Anyway, this is in my knowledge the first ever study to denounce the benefits of regular 30-min daily physical activity.

Posted by Anonymous on 11 February 2010

Direction of causation needs to questioned here, too. Likely that unwell people are more sedentary than healthy folks.

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