August 16, 2011

Want To Live Longer? Put Down The Remote!

Experts say that an hour spent watching television shortens a viewer's life by 22 minutes.

Researchers say watching too much TV is as dangerous as smoking or being overweight, and that the "ubiquitous sedentary behavior" should be seen as a "public health problem."

Experts from the University of Queensland, Australia, wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine: "TV viewing time may have adverse health consequences that rival those of lack of physical activity, obesity and smoking; every single hour of TV viewed may shorten life by as much as 22 minutes."

The researchers said referring to Australian and American guidelines that suggest children should spend no more than two hours a day in front of a screen that "With further corroborative evidence, a public health case could be made that adults also need to limit the time spent watching TV."

The team looked at the results of a survey of 11,247 Australians taken in 1999 to 2000, which asked about time spent watching TV, and also mortality figures for the country.

The experts then constructed a model in which they compared life expectancy for adults who watch TV to those who did not, and determined that every hour spent watching TV shortened life by 21.8 minutes.

For those in the top 1 percent of the population who watch six hours of programs per day, they "can expect to live 4.8 years less than a person who does not watch TV."

The team said that watching TV is among the most common forms of sedentary behavior, along with sitting in cars.

"Because TV viewing is a ubiquitous behavior that occupies significant portions of adults' leisure time, its effects are significant for overall population health."

England's Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, said in a press release: "Physical activity offers huge benefits and these studies back what we already know - that doing a little bit of physical activity each day brings health benefits and a sedentary lifestyle carries additional risks.

"That's why the UK's Chief Medical Officers recently updated their advice on physical activity to be more flexible, right from babyhood to adult life.

"Adults, for example, can get their 150 minutes of activity a week in sessions of 10 minutes or more and for the first time we have provided guidelines on reducing sedentary time.

"We hope these studies will help more people realize that there are many ways to get exercise - activities like walking at a good pace or digging the garden over can count too."


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