New Study Links TV Watching To Shorter Lifespans

Posted: February 6, 2010 by Matthew Casey in Science
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

TV may not just be bad for the mind but also the heart according to a new health study.

Remember the days when your parents would yell at you as you were watching television in deep concentration,  “don’t  sit so close! You’re going to ruin your eyesight!”.   Well that has been proven as myth by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).  But just when you might think that it is safe to sit and watch TV with no health effects there is a new study that gets released to get you thinking.  This one seems a little more jarring than damaging your eyesight.  This study actually finds that TV may cut your lifespan short by way of cardiovascular disease.

According to Australian researchers, sitting and watching television for one hour per day increases the average person’s risk of premature death by cardiovascular disease by 18%.   Not only did the study look at heart disease, but it also found that the risks of early death by any other health problem fly up to  11 per cent for each hour in front of the tube and jumped up to 9 per cent for risk of developing fatal cancer.  As I read the results of this study I found myself deeply regretting those all day Star Trek marathons I watched back in the day.

Now this shouldn’t really come as a surprise, because it has long been known that lack of exercise can contribute to poor health.  When one is watching television they are generally not doing anything other than sitting, thus not getting any physical activity. This study looked at three groups of people: those who watched more than four hours of TV per day, those who caught up to four hours per day, and people who watched less than two hours per day.  The participants of the study were followed for a six year period.  People with health problems such as heart disease were not included in the study.

The end results showed that people in the first group had an 80% chance of developing fatal heart diseases and had a 46% greater chance of dying by any other causes.  To further control the research, smokers and those with other health problems were not included in the study.  Even despite the participants being healthy they were affected by prolonged periods of watching the television.

In the end it all boils down to getting active.  In today’s lifestyle there is very little physical activity involved in our jobs and day to day routines.  Most people tend to sit at work all day, then come home and sit again.  So we all need to throw in more hours of physical activity in a day and keep the hours of inactivity down.  Like anything else in life, it all boils down to moderation, even watching television.

—Matthew Casey

With files from The Toronto Star

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