This common activity is taking years off your life

Although public health officials recommend adults try to walk for 30 to 45 minutes every day, the consequences associated with a failure to meet this guideline are not widely known among the general public.

In a recent report published in The Lancet, researchers more squarely identified the adverse effects of prolonged sedentary lifestyles with an analysis comprised of six independent databases and 16 separate studies.

Habitual inactivity and TV time were linked with several chronic conditions and even death in nearly all of them.

Collectively, the studies featured in The Lancet paper reviewed more than 1 million male and female participants.

Data on both daily sitting or TV-viewing time and physical activity, and reported effect estimates for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, or breast, colon, and colorectal cancer mortality.

“High amounts of sedentary behavior have been associated with increased risks of several chronic conditions and mortality. However, it is unclear whether physical activity attenuates or even eliminates the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting. We examined the associations of sedentary behavior and physical activity with all-cause mortality,” the authors wrote in the new paper.

“Watching TV for 3 hour or more per day was associated with increased mortality regardless of physical activity, except in the most active quartile, where mortality was significantly increased only in people who watched TV for 5 h/day or more.”

It should be noted that although high levels of moderate-intensity physical activity (roughly 60–75 min per day) appeared to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time, it did not produce this effect for those belonging to the high-tv time group.

An independently conducted report published in the journal, Circulation determined that people who watch TV for 5 or more hours a day have more than double the risk of dying from a blood clot in the lungs compared to those who watch 2-1/2 hours a day.

“Television viewing time was associated with increased risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. In addition to the promotion of exercise, chronic disease prevention strategies could focus on reducing sitting time, particularly prolonged television viewing,” the authors wrote.

Frequent TV time additionally encourages the consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages in addition to the overeating of otherwise healthy food options.

“It’s fine to sometimes have a snack in front of the TV, but when it becomes a repeated pattern, or when eating and watching TV become cognitively linked, then it becomes an unhealthy pattern,” explains psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD.

“We tend to eat more mindlessly in front of the TV. We also don’t taste and experience the food as much because we’re distracted.

I think eating while watching TV also prolongs the time period that we’re eating,” Dr. Albers adds. “If your show is an hour-long, you might continue to eat throughout that time period.”

Moderation likely bridges the gap between exercise guidelines and tv time.

Public health guidance on physical activity suggests that sufficient values can be obtained accumulatively. So you can segment the recommended 45-minutes in accordance with your schedule.

“These results provide further evidence on the benefits of physical activity, particularly in societies where increasing numbers of people have to sit for long hours for work and may also inform future public health recommendations,” The Lancet concludes.