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Aug 30, 2011

Shorten TV Time to Increase Life Span

A common way that many people attempt to “unwind” after a long day of work is to plop down in front of the television.  It may feel like a relaxing way to spend the evening, but too much of it is detrimental to health and longevity.  When Australian researchers analyzed data looking at mortality and amount of time spent watching TV, they found that people who watched 6 hours of TV per day on average lived an average of nearly 5 years less compared with non-TV watchers.  The study gathered data from over 11,000 Australian adults over the age of 25 years, and found that they had watched approximately 9.8 billion hours of TV in 2008.  Another interesting statistic they found was that for each hour of TV viewed after age 25, life expectancy was reduced by 22 minutes!    

It really comes as no surprise why watching too much television reduces longevity.  Watching TV takes away from time spent being physically active.  It also tends to encourage poor eating behaviors, like mindlessly eating a whole bag of potato chips and promoting the consumption of junk foods displayed repeatedly in advertisements.  In this particular study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the correlation between lower life expectancy and too much TV time was still present even after correcting for dietary habits.    

When it comes to living a long life, television is not our biggest ally.  If and when you choose to watch TV, enjoy your opportunity to relax, be entertained, or learn something new, but be sure to create some healthy limits on how long you do it.  And don’t forget to balance it out with your daily exercise and health-promoting eating habits!  

Dr. Shana McQueen