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Watching TV is Bad for Your Health But Sitting Still is the Culprit

Posted Jan 27 2010 12:00am
Did you see the stories in the newspapers that TV watching is bad for your health? It is but probably not for the reasons you might think. Certainly being a couch potato is unhealthy and if we sit there for long periods, eating chips, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, our health will obviously take a turn for the worse. But a new study from Australian researchers observed 8800 adults for over six years and recorded the deaths from heart disease, cancer and all causes. The results were published in Circulation and showed some disturbing trends for those of us that are living in the information age. Sitting is a problem all by itself. Those who sit and watch more than four hours of TV per day are at nearly 50% greater risk of death from any cause than are those who spend less than 2 hours sitting in front of the TV. And those same people have an 80% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those with less time in front of the TV. And it’s bad for you even if you are relatively healthy, have a normal weight and exercise regularly. All that sitting is bad for your health.

Our forefathers and foremothers spent most of their days in some sort of physical activity - farming, cooking, and hunting. But we hop in our car and drive to work; walk a short distance to our office and sit down again; get up to get lunch and then sit back down before our computer. Then we sit to drive home and sit to eat dinner and sit to watch TV. It turns out that our bodies were designed to move. Not only do moving our muscle burn energy but moving our muscles affects many critical body regulatory mechanisms – such as blood sugar balance. Prolonged sitting disrupts these processes.

The moral of the study is that we need to move around. Watching TV may be OK but not if we are sitting still. And going to the gym for 45 minutes a few times per week cannot make up for all that sitting. What we all need to do is move around. Just a few steps every so often makes a difference. Walk up a few flights at work; park further from the building; make trips to the water cooler which is kept at a distance from your office. Stretch in place and do muscle contractions regularly during the course of the day. Don’t let your day be sedentary; move more, more, more.
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