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Don't Just Sit There
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Photo: Studiomill
Can watching television shorten your life? According to one recent study it just might.

The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia concluded a study on the effect that watching television for long periods of time has on lifespan. The results are sobering.

For every hour you spend sitting in front of a television set, you increase your chances of death from all causes by 11%. Your chances of death from cancer increase 9% and your chance of death due to cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke increases 18%. Veg out in front of the television five hours a day and you run double the risk of dying earlier than someone who has skipped spending quality time with the boob tube.

These results were based on a study that involved over 8000 people. Their television watching habits and their health were monitored over a seven year period.

The culprit turns out not to be the television itself. Rather, spending too much time sitting down hurts your health. Your body burns energy differently when you are sitting down than when you are standing. It runs much more slowly. In fact, your metabolism runs at a level equivalent to that of when you are sleeping. It does not matter whether you are sitting because you are watching television, using a computer or working at your desk. Prolonged sitting can even undo the health effects of that vigorous 30 minute workout you did at some other time during the day.

Move Around

Many people think that vigorous exercise is the key to good health. This study shows that moderate exercise— walking around, doing household chores, or merely standing while pottering around at your workbench or folding laundry—can be equally beneficial.

If you have a desk job, consider standing while you work or moving around your cubicle. If you work at a computer, see if you can arrange your workstation so you can work standing up.

When you get home, look for ways to spend the evening on your feet. Taking an hour to walk around your neighborhood is better than propping yourself on a chair in front of the television. If you do watch television, set up a treadmill in front of the set so that you can walk while you watch. At least put the remote on top of the set. That way you have to walk over to it to change the channel.
 
Want to see the original report? It is online here.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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