Dr Mark Atkinson's Blog

25Jul 2010

Watching TV Shortens Life

This was the headline that caught my eye as I made my way through last months Perspectives in Public Health magazine – the official magazine for the Royal Society for Public Health. In a nutshell Australian researchers found that prolonged TV watching is positively correlated with an increased death rate among adults over the age of 25. They found that people who watch more than four hours a day have a 46 per cent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 per cent increased risk of death from heart disease. That for me is fascinating.

However what I found very interesting was the comment from Professor David Dunstan (who lead the study) – he felt that the cause behind the increased risk of health problems was the loss of muscle movement for the duration that we are sitting down doing nothing. What’s more exercising doesn’t compensate – they found those people who exercised daily and also watched 4 hours plus of TV a day on average also had an increased risk of premature death.

So in summary its not moving and contracting our muscles which is the problem, which means that those of us who sit down alot – myself included, we need to be intermittently contracting and relaxing our muscles whilst sitting! I also recommend that most of my patients watch less than 90 minutes of TV a day – longer than that is a habit that takes away time for creative pursuits, relaxation and intimacy – what are your thoughts on this?

Author: Mark Atkinson