It’s time to get off the couch because watching too much TV could kill you.
Researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute found a link between binge watching TV and eight leading causes of death including cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, Parkinson’s, liver disease, and suicide.
They discovered more hours in front of the TV meant a greater likelihood of death.
Scientists studied more than 221,000 people over 16 years and discovered those who watched seven or more hours of TV every day were 47 percent more likely to die from one of the eight leading causes.
They also found that people who watched three to four hours of TV per day, like most Americans, had a 15 percent higher chance of death than those who watched only one hour.
Statistically, Americans spend at least half their leisure time in front of the TV.
The study’s author, Sarah Keadle, a cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute, told Pioneer News that watching TV had become the most popular sedentary behavior in America. That’s what makes the amount of time people spend watching TV such a great indicator of their overall physical inactivity.
“Although we found that exercise did not fully eliminate risks associated with prolonged television viewing, certainly for those who want to reduce their sedentary television viewing, exercise should be the first choice to replace that previously inactive time.”
More and more research is coming out suggesting the act of sitting can be incredibly bad for your health, and some researchers claim sitting is even worse than smoking. Watching TV is one of the best ways to distract people from exercising, which is why it’s so bad for our health, researchers told Pioneer News.
“Older adults watch the most TV of any demographic group in the U.S. Given the increasing age of the population, the high prevalence of TV viewing in leisure time, and the broad range of mortality outcomes for which risk appears to be increased, prolonged TV viewing may be a more important target for public health intervention than previously recognized.”
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
It mirrors similar findings by the Journal of the American Heart Association, which published a study in June saying that people who watched excessive amounts of TV were twice as likely to die from one of the aforementioned diseases as those who didn’t.
That study followed more than 13,000 people and observed three sedentary behaviors: TV watching, computer use, and driving time. They found that sitting in front of a computer or behind the wheel didn’t increase the chance of death, but watching TV did. That’s even after researchers factored in health risks like smoking or eating lots of junk food.
Researchers discovered people who watched three or more hours of TV a day face an increased risk of premature death, even after taking into account other factors, according to Time.
The American Heart Association recommends everyone get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week.
For those TV watchers obsessed with the latest programming, experts offer a few tips to stay healthy including standing while watching TV and taking breaks between shows to stretch and move around. If you watch TV at night, don’t fast forward through the commercials, get up and walk around or stretch.
Exercise can help decrease the harmful effects of too much sitting, but won’t eliminate it entirely. Too much sitting can lead to cardiovascular issues, cancer, and chronic health problems like Type 2 diabetes.
If you sit too much at work, experts recommend a standing desk or taking a walk for three minutes every half hour.
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