Numerous studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle with a wide range of health disorders. Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and cancer are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it is been suggested that a sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact almost every aspect of a person’s health.
Sitting for long periods of time diminishes the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. It can also cause a reduction in the flow of blood throughout the body, which is required to provide oxygen to the body’s cells. Numerous studies have demonstrated that oxidative stress is directly linked to aging and disease. Furthermore, a sedentary lifestyle can limit the body’s ability to metabolize sugar, and can increase inflammation, leading to inflammatory disease.
Dr. Sotirios Tsalamandris, a cardiologist at the First Cardiology Clinic at the National and Kapodistrian University in Athens, Greece, recently led a study to determine the effect spending time watching TV has on an individual’s health. Dr. Tsalamandris and his colleagues analyzed 2000 people between the ages of 40 and 99. The participants included people without any indication of heart disease, people at risk for heart disease, and people who already had heart disease.
The researchers initially divided the participants into three groups:
- The first group consisted of people who watched TV no more than 7 hours a week.
- The second group consisted of people who watched TV between 7 and 21 hours per week.
- The third group consisted of people who watched TV more than 21 hours per week.
Using a series of markers, including the thickness of the arterial walls, along with other measurements of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as questionnaires regarding the daily amount of television watched each day, the scientists were able to analyze the effect the amount of time spent watching TV had on a variety of diseases.
In particular, the researchers found that the participants in Group 3 had double the risk of plaque buildup in their arteries compared to those in Group 1. Furthermore, the participants in Group 3 were 68% more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, and 50% more likely to have diabetes than those in Group 1.
In Dr. Tsalamandris words, “These findings suggest a clear message to hit the off button on your TV and abandon your sofa. Even activities of low energy expenditure, such as socializing with friends or housekeeping activities, may have a substantial benefit to your health compared with time spent sitting and watching TV.”
It is worth pointing out that this study only took into account the amount of time individuals spent watching TV. Time spent sitting at a desk or in front of a computer screen were not taken into account. This suggests that the effects of a sedentary lifestyle are even worse than what was demonstrated.
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