Perhaps it’s time to move away from the remote and log out of Netflix for a few hours: Researchers in Spain have found that binge TV watching is directly linked to an increased risk of death, more so than sitting in a car or working at a computer. The mortality risk was twice as high for those who watched more than three hours of television a day compared with less than one hour a day.
The dangers of sitting down for extended periods of time have already been well documented, but the study found that driving a car or using a computer were not nearly as damaging as watching television — the fact that slumping in front of the TV requires so little energy and interaction would seem to be a significant factor.
“Our findings suggest that not only the promotion of physical activity but also the reduction in sedentary activities (especially television viewing) is a priority for the prevention of premature mortality,” stated the report, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Over 13,000 Spanish University graduates with a mean age of 37 were used as guinea pigs in the research, carried out over a period of 8 years.
With the advent of online television portals and subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu, it’s now easier than ever to get lost in marathon TV viewing sessions without the need to so much as swap over a DVD. What the newly published research proves, however, is that this sort of indulgence has to be the exception rather than the norm.
The report authors conclude with a call for further research into the effects of watching television shows and movies when measured against using a computer for other tasks. “Further cohort studies and trials designed to assess whether reductions in television viewing are able to reduce mortality are warranted,” they write. “The lack of association between computer use or time spent driving and mortality needs further confirmation.”