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This One Common Habit Is Slowly Killing You (And We Don’t Mean Smoking)
Did you catch the latest marathon of the first five seasons of The Walking Dead this weekend? Perhaps you caught up on all your favorite shows this weekend: Is Orange is the New Black or is House of Cards your favorite? Well, if you enjoyed your weekend binge of marathon television watching this past week or weekend, you might want to get up off the couch.
A new study recently presented in London at the European Society of Cardiology 2015 annual conference found that watching more than five hours of television each day leaves you twice as likely to suffer from a fatal pulmonary embolism.
Unfortunately, according to a March 2014 report by the Nielsen ratings company, the typical American watches more than five hours of television each and every day. After the age of 65, television watching hits an incredible seven hours each day.
The Japanese government recently funded a public health study through the Department of Social Medicine at Osaka University. These scientists were looking for a link between prolonged television watching and health risks. This study involved men and women between the ages of 40 and 79, with more than 86,000 participants. The study ran 18 years in length, through 2009. The duration of television watching was divided into three groups; those who watched less than 2.5 hours, those who watched between 2.5 and 4.9 hours, and those who watched more than five hours each day. The risk of death from pulmonary embolism, where there is a blockage in the pulmonary artery, was based on the length of television watching. Researchers adjusted for gender, history of high blood pressure or diabetes, smoking status, BMI, age at baseline, sports habits and menopause. After these adjustments, death from pulmonary embolism was pulled from death certificates, of which 59 deaths resulted from a pulmonary embolism.
This study concluded that those who sit on their butts watching television for more than five hours each day add twice the risk of developing this life threatening blood clot than those who watched 2.5 hours of TV each day. Within the group of 40 to 59 year olds, those who watched five hours of television had as much as six times the risk of developing this deadly blood clot. Even those who watched 2.5 to 4.9 hours of TV each day were three times more likely to develop this deadly blood clot than those who watched less than 2.5 hours of television each day.
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Scientists believe that it is the immobility of the legs that might be the cause of this. They recommend the same behavior for those who watch television as those who sit on long airline flights: Get up, walk around, and move your legs.
These deadly blood clots also occur for those who sit in front of computers for long periods of time. The longer your legs remain immobile, the greater your risk of developing a blood clot.
Although there are no studies of the exact number of people who are affected by deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, the Centers for Disease Control believe that here are as many as 900,000 people affected at any given time. More than 60,000 people die from a pulmonary embolism every year. Most people die within 60 minutes after symptoms start. Typical symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pain, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association had similar findings. Their study involved more than 13,000 Spanish college studies for about an eight-year period in an attempt to determine if there was a link between sedentary behavior and the risk of death. This study also focused on the amount of time spent in front of the television as well as time spent driving and sitting in front of the computer.
This study, performed at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, found that of the 97 deaths, 19 were from cardiovascular causes. Scientists found a correlation to death and time spent watching television, but not from driving or time spent on the computer. The researchers who conducted this study found that watching television was a very passive activity and those who did so for hours on end were not at all aware of their lifestyle or diet.
A sedentary lifestyle has long been linked with heart disease or diabetes, but being sedentary for too long a period of time causes the blood vessels to harden, as well as causing a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, which are two of the main building blocks, if you will, of heart disease.
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No one is quite sure what the difference is between watching television and driving a car or sitting in front of the computer, but there is definitely some type of difference. Scientists recommend that people limit their television viewing to no more than two hours a day and/or make sure that they are getting up and moving around when they are watching television for longer periods.
One more study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that for every hour of television that people over the age of 25 watches, it deducts 22 minutes from their life span. This means that if you watch television an average of six hours a day, you can cut five years off of your life expectancy!
Other findings have suggested that watching too much of the boob tube is just as damaging to your health as smoking. Watching television for long periods of time is associated with a loss of life that is comparable to almost all other major chronic disease risk factors, such as obesity.
Television watching has also been shown to have a major impact on your brain chemistry over time. The longer you watch, the easier your brain slips into a receptive, passive mode. This means that messages (such as advertisements) on television are flowing into your brain without any participation from you. This explains why so many advertisements aimed at young children and teens works so well!
READ ALSO: Top 11 Reasons You Need to Watch Less Television
It’s good to note that even a moderate amount of exercise has been demonstrated in numerous studies to add years to your life. The Lancet recently published a study which found that even just 15 minutes of exercise each day could increase a person’s lifespan by three years.
The key here is balance, friends. We aren’t saying that television is an evil product and that you should throw it out. Many programs on television are educational as well as informative. But spending hour after hour watching mindless television programs is slowly killing you and robbing you of a long, healthy life.
Watch that favorite television show, and put the treadmill in front of the set. This way, you can watch your show but still get your body and legs moving.
Jan 7, 2016 at 9:31 am
I never got sucked into watching those boring sitcoms with the canned laughter. What I DO do is, turn my TV to one of the calming music (instrumentals) channels and use it as background music while I, um, sit on my butt in front of my desktop computer. 🙂