Who is not glued to the TV for the World Cup going on these days? Millions of people who didn’t get the chance to go to South Africa for the World Cup are watching TV. Unfortunately, British researchers have some bad news for them. It seems that they’ve found every hour of television watched per day increase the risk of dying from heart disease by seven per cent.
The research was conducted by the Medical Research Council studied more than 13,000 healthy middle aged men and women in Norfolk, for over 10 years. 373 of the 13,197 participants or one in 35 died from heart disease, and of these deaths, 30 could have been prevented if the average person watched one hour of television per day instead of four.
It’s even sadder that the link between TV and heart disease was still strong even when lack of exercise, obesity, diet and smoking were taken into account. This means that watching TV was independently linked to heart disease and the effect is not simply due to be inactive while watching television. Dr Katrien Wijndaele co-author of the study from the MRC explained:
“Our bodies are not designed to sit for long periods and we should be aware that, as we put in the TV-hours watching the World Cup, our risk of heart disease is probably increasing. It might seem obvious that watching TV is linked to heart disease but it’s really crucial that we look closely at how our lifestyles affect our health in order to develop more effective ways of improving the health of the nation. This type of research is a crucial part of informing public health advice. We need further research to see if other sedentary activities, like sitting behind a computer or in the car, generate the same results. However, we chose to focus on TV as it’s the most widespread sedentary leisure activity where people have an active choice to dramatically change their behavior.”
But let’s give an example for a better understanding. For instance, if a person’s normal risk of dying by heart disease is 10 per cent, watching four hours of television a day increases the risk to 13 per cent.
The results of the study that have been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, should be taken seriously. As we all know, most of us smile ironically when they hear about such studies. They think it’s a joke but it’s not. Such studies strengthen the argument that sitting for hours on end watching TV is not good for our health. Their goal is not to make us not watch TV at all. On the contrary, we should watch what we love on TV, whether it’s the World Cup or a soap opera. The important thing is not to transform ourselves in couch potatoes, to do at least 30 minutes physical activity five times a week, eat healthy and it will make a difference.