Time spent sitting, watching TV, associated with mortality
NIH researchers find that time spent in sedentary behavior, like watching television, is associated with higher death rates even when people do moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
Balintfy: Researchers have evaluated more than 240-thousand adults aged 50-71 who were free of cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Matthews:We found that the more time our participants spent watching television, the greater their increase of risk of early death was.
Balintfy: Thatís Dr. Charles Matthews; heís an investigator at the National Institutes of Health.
Matthews:Somewhere above three to four hours per day of watching television, the risk appeared to increase at least in our data.
Balintfy: Dr. Matthews explains that that the data came from the long-term follow-up study of individuals enrolled in the NIH AARP Diet and Health Study.
Matthews:We measured their television viewing, that baseline in the study and then followed them for eight and a half years or so to gather the mortality or the death information.
Balintfy: Dr. Matthews says weíve known for a long time that exercise is associated with the reduced risk of death; specifically moderate to vigorous physical activity at recommended levels, which is two and a half hours a week of moderate intensity activity. He adds that's exactly what he saw in the study. But there was a surprise.
Matthews:One of the striking things we found in our study that both time spent sedentary behaviors watching television and exercise were important determinants of early mortality. In fact, the individuals who exercised at quite high levels but also watched a lot of television remained at increased risk of early death even though they exercised quite a bit.
Balintfy: Dr. Matthews points out that most research in television viewing and health is often focused on the media message that's coming out of the television. He says that these results suggest the chairs we're in while watching television maybe an important contributor to ill health associated with TV watching.
Matthews:At this point in modern life, most Americans are sedentary or sit for the majority of their time each day; it can be as much as eight to ten hours a day or more. So it seems to me that sitting that much can have deleterious health consequences even if you exercise a few hours each week.
Balintfy: He advises reducing time spent sitting if possible Ė even getting up and doing those household chores.
Matthews:We think that that much sitting takes away from other kinds of activities people do in their daily life and that loss of activity maybe an important component to the mortality risk reduction that we saw in our study. So, in addition to exercising at recommended levels, reducing sitting time when possible appears to be an important component to a healthy lifestyle or certainly extending longevity.
Balintfy: Dr. Matthews presented this information at a recent conference of the American College of Sports Medicine. He adds of the association between TV watching and mortality:
Matthews:Another important point is, you know, we'd looked at a number of other factors that could have explained the relationship and particularly dietary factors that are often thought to be important for health risk also and it may be modified by television viewing, and these didn't seem to be important in our analysis. The increased risk associated with higher levels of television viewing were observed in those that had a good quality diet as well as a poor quality diet so we donít think dietary factors played an important bit in our results.
Balintfy: For more information on the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, visit the website http://dietandhealth.cancer.gov/. This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Charles Matthews
Topic: watching television, watching TV, sitting, sedentary behavior, early death, early mortality, exercise, physical activity