Keadle said that they knew TV viewing is the most prevalent leisure-time sedentary behavior and they had a working hypothesis that the amount of TV viewing time is an indicator of overall physical inactivity.
It appeared that death risk increases with 3-4 hours of TV viewing per day. The study showed that there was a link between TV viewing and the risk of:
- Heart disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Liver disease
- Compared to those who watch less than an hour of TV per day, those who watched 3-4 hours were 15% more likely to die from any cause.
- Compared to those who watch less than an hour of TV per day, those who watched 7 or more hours of TV per day were 47% more likely to die during the study period.
What to make of this study
This study proves once again the negative effects of sitting or a sedentary type lifestyle on our health. My first thought when reading this was that those that were spending hours a day on the couch watching TV were likely to not exercise much or have poor diets etc. It was interesting that the researchers found that after controlling for other factors that might explain the links, such as food intake, alcohol intake, smoking etc, the negative associations persisted.
I am not going to say don’t watch TV. We all need to do things we enjoy. What I suggest would be a good idea is to utilize some of the time you spend watching TV and use it to help improve your body’s health and not just spend it sitting on a couch. How would I do this you may ask? Here are some simple ideas:
- Rather than sitting on the couch doing nothing, get onto the floor and do some stretches. You can still watch the TV whilst you do them. Doing some nice gentle stretches can be quite relaxing, it shouldn’t feel like a chore.
- Whilst you are on the floor, you could also do some simple core stability exercises.
- Whilst you are on the floor you could work on some myofascial release in all of those muscles that have tightened up due to all of the other sitting we do during the day. This soft tissue work is not always fun, it can be quite sore, but it makes a massive difference in how well your body functions.
- If you have gym equipment at home, you could do other exercises such as ride a bike or use a treadmill or general weights.
- If you don’t want to exercise or stretch, at least make sure you change positon regularly and try to maintain good posture.
The researchers found that exercise did not completely diminish the risks associated with prolonged TV viewing, but they did suggest that for those who want to reduce the time spent in front of the TV, "exercise should be the first choice to replace that previously inactive time."