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Friday, January 28, 2011

Report: Too much TV can be deadly

By Nick Katsarelas

If you're in the habit of flopping onto the couch for a few hours of TV after a grueling day at work, consider this: You're increasing your risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event. Those are the findings of a recent study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

According to the study, spending more than four hours a day sitting in front of a television or computer in their spare time more than doubles a person's risk of dying from heart disease. Even those who exercise can't overcome the negative impact of too much time looking at a screen, said the study. 

The researchers studied 4,512 adults. They found that the people who spent more than four hours a day sitting in front of a TV or computer in their spare time were 48 percent more likely to die from any cause, and 125 percent more likely to have heart problems over the study period, than people who spent fewer than two hours of leisure time in front of a screen.

And exercise also didn't seem to neutralize screen time's effects on heart disease, according to the study. There was no difference in heart disease risk between people who reported getting less than two hours a day of exercise and those who reported more than two hours a day of exercise, he said.

Researchers point to two possible causes: One is that the type of person who sits in front of a TV for long periods of time may lead an unhealthy lifestyle in other ways. Or sitting for long periods of time could increase heart problems by causing inflammation.

To add some movement into leisure time, the American Heart Association recommends putting away the remote control and getting up to change the channel on the TV, and keeping snacks far away from the TV. And you can increase physical activity at the office by taking an occasional stroll, or by using the bathroom or drinking faucet on the far side of the building. 

For more information on this and related studies, read articles in The New York Times, WebMD, or ScienceDaily.com.


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