SYDNEY, Jan 13 — Couch potatoes, beware. Sitting in front of the television — or doing any other sedentary activity — for hours daily could shorten your life, according to a new Australian study released this week.
Researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in the state of Victoria tracked the lifestyle habits of 8,800 adults and found that each hour spent in front of the TV daily increased the risk of dying earlier from cardiovascular disease.
The study, published in Circulation: Journal Of The American Heart Association, found every hour in front of the TV was associated with an 11 per cent increased risk of death from all causes, a 9 per cent higher risk of cancer death, and an 18 per cent increased risk of death related to CVD (cardiovascular disease).
“Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 per cent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 per cent increased risk of CVD-related death,’ the researchers said in a statement.
They said this association held regardless of other independent and common CVD risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, unhealthy diet, excessive waist circumference and leisure exercises.
Researcher David Dunstan said the study focused specifically on TV watching, but the findings suggest that any prolonged sedentary behaviour, such as sitting at a desk, may pose a health risk.
“The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time,” said Professor Dunstan, head of the institute’s physical activity laboratory in the division of metabolism and obesity.
“For many people, on a daily basis, they simply shift from one chair to another — s from the chair in the car to the chair in the office to the chair in front of the television set.”
He added that the findings applied not only to the overweight, but also to those of a healthy weight: “Even if someone has a healthy body weight, sitting for long periods of time still has an unhealthy influence on their blood sugar and blood fats.
“In addition to doing regular exercise, avoid sitting for prolonged periods and keep in mind to ‘move more, more often’. Too much sitting is bad for health.”
The researchers interviewed and observed 3,846 men and 4,954 women aged 25 and older on their television-viewing habits for the six-year study.
Said Dr Tim Chico, a cardiologist at Britain’s University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the study: “It is ironic that TV sets are getting thinner, while we are getting fatter.” — Reuters