LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Reality shows? Game shows? Sitcoms? Hour-long dramas? Pick your poison.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association says adults who watch three or more hours of television per day could double their risk of premature death.

Researchers monitored a group of more than 13,000 young and healthy individuals with an average age of 37 for a median of 8.2 years. They tried to determine the association between three sedentary activities — watching television, being on a computer and driving — and risk of death.

Researchers reported 97 deaths, with 19 deaths from cardiovascular causes, 46 from cancer and 32 from other causes. They found that the risk of death was two times higher for participants who reported watching three or more hours of television per day compared to those who watched an hour or less per day.

“After accounting for a wide array of other variables related to a higher risk of death,” the pattern was still present, the study says.

By contrast, researchers found no significant association between premature death and the time spent using a computer or driving.

“As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging,” says Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the study’s lead author and professor at the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

“Our findings suggest adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one to two hours each day.”

The American Heart Association also recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week and moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening at least twice a week.


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