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Don’t watch TV! It’s killing you 22 minutes at a time

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If you’re reading this on a computer, chances are you’re sitting down, and if you’ve been sitting for more than an hour, your lifespan may have just dropped by an additional 22 minutes. That is, if you believe the results of a new study by the University of Queensland. Australian researchers have found that those who averaged six hours of TV (or sitting sedentary) per day lived about five years less than those who watched no TV. The problems seem to start for those 25 and older. If the numbers are broken down, for every hour of television watched after age 25, lifespan dropped by 22 minutes, according to HealthDay

Naturally, other experts have already come out against the study, saying that it is not necessarily TV watching or sitting that is causing people to die sooner. There is simply an association between watching lots of TV and a shorter life. 

“As a rule, the more time we spend watching TV, the more time we spend eating mindlessly in front of the TV, and the less time we spend being physically active,” said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. “More eating and less physical activity, in turn, mean greater risk for obesity, and the chronic diseases it tends to anticipate, notably diabetes, heart disease and cancer….Another explanation for the possible link may be that people who watch excessive amounts of TV ” are lonely, or isolated, or depressed, and these conditions, in turn, may be the real causes of premature mortality.”

The study was conducted using data on 11,000 people ages 25 and up, but we’re not so keen on how they got their data. The researchers had people answer survey questions about how much TV they watch, on average, and then compared the information to national population and mortality figures. Somehow, they ended up with the very precise figure of 1 hour of TV viewing = 22 minutes less life to live. That’s greater than the life lost per cigarette, which they calculate to be about 11 minutes. Which would you rather do, smoke two cigarettes or watch an hour of TV?

Also, is it just us or does it seem a bit odd that a full hour of television eliminates exactly 22 minutes, or a commercial free half-hour block of TV? Perhaps this study is really an endorsement for Netflix, a place where you can watch an hour-long TV show commercial free at its actual running length of 42 minutes. The time savings will add up. By watching TV without commercials, you could add a third of your life back, all without giving up any actual entertainment programming. 

Still, silly research aside, it might be good to get up and move every so often. As Dr. Gregg Fonarow, associate chief of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, says: “there is increasing evidence that the amount of time spent in sedentary activity such at TV watching, distinct from the amount of time spent in purposeful exercise, may adversely impact health.”

To that we agree, but if anyone drops dead reading this, don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

(Image via Fox Entertainment)