You lose 21.8 minutes of life every hour you sit in front of a TV

Sitting in front of a TV

We’ve been hearing more and more about how sitting all day in front of computers and TVs is slowly killing us (which is one reason I use a treadmill desk), but now a new study has pinpointed exactly how much of our precious life is being frittered away on chairs and couches: 21.8 minutes for every hour we sit.

This New York Time article Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit explains how Dr. J. Lennert Veerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, was able to figure out such an exact number:

Using complex actuarial tables and adjusting for smoking, waist circumference, dietary quality, exercise habits and other variables, the scientists were next able to isolate the specific effect that the hours of sitting seemed to be having on people’s life spans.

And the findings were sobering: Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the authors said.

Looking more broadly, they concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV.

It appears that continuous sitting has the same effect on you even if you get regular exercise during other times of the day, according to Veerman. Another recent study in the journal Diabetologia found that adults spend 50-70% of their time sitting, and the more you sit the more likely you are to develop a host of health problems.

The researchers then cross-referenced sitting time with health outcomes, and found that those people with the “highest sedentary behavior,” meaning those who sat the most, had a 112 percent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes; a 147 percent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease; and a 49 percent greater risk of dying prematurely — even if they regularly exercised.

You can combat “sitting disease” by doing simple things like moving the garbage in your office across the room so you have to get up to throw something out, taking more frequent water breaks, standing during phone calls and, of course, watching less TV.

Posted October 19, 2012 @ 3:28 pm | Tags: ,,

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