If you spend too much time sitting in front of the TV or the computer, your risk for heart disease and even premature death may dramatically increase. A new study concludes that watching four or hours or more of screen-based entertainment doubles one’s risk of a cardiac event that lands you in the hospital.
The information comes to light in the pages of the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology.” One interesting point is that this result is independent of exercise levels. No matter what your physical activity levels are, spending a lot of time each day watching TV shows, movies on the computer, or playing video games increases your risk of serious health problems.
The study is the first to look at the link between screen time and non-fatal as well as fatal cardiovascular events. It also found that metabolism and inflammation could help explain what they found. The main idea so we are clear: those who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen — primarily watching TV — are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heart-related problems.
Compared to spending under two hours a day watching a screen, there was a 48% higher risk of death by any cause in spending four or more hours a day. The researchers think more adults should know that “recreational sitting” in non-work hours is simply unhealthy — and perhaps far more unhealthy than we thought.
The study was based on 4,500 adults who responded to a 2003 survey. Over four years of follow-up, there were 325 all-cause deaths and 215 cardiac events.
There may be biological reasons behind it. One issue that played a role was C-reactive protein (which means that inflammation in the body is high), one’s weight, and one’s level of cholesterol in the blood. C-reactive protein, for instance, was about two times higher in people who spent more than four hours of screen time per day compared to those spending less than two hours a day.
The researchers say that habits play a big role. People go home at the end of the day, flip the TV on and sit for a few hours watching it. Yet this activity is bad for the heart and your overall health. These effects may not be mitigated by exercise, which means limiting TV watching and video game playing is the only way to curb this risk. Of course, replacing that with some exercise is the ultimate way to improve one’s health.