Heart Disease: Less TV and more physical activity keep you healthy
Scientists from the United States were able to show in a study that people who watch less television and are more physically active live more years without heart disease and stroke.
Previous scientific studies have shown that people with high physical activity live more years without cardiovascular diseases. However, the researchers in a study that has now been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association wanted to investigate more closely how television habits fit into the equation. Using data from 13,534 people aged 45 to 64, the researchers examined three factors: how much they watched TV, how often they were physically active in their spare time, and how long they lived without stroke, heart failure, or coronary artery disease.
Live longer free of cardiovascular diseases
After an average of 27 years, people who were very active and watched little or no television lived free from stroke, heart failure and coronary artery disease two and a half years longer than those who often watched TV and were inactive, reports the American Heart Association (AHA) on their Website. According to the study, television affected health regardless of physical activity. Those who rarely watched TV or never watched TV lived free of any type of cardiovascular disease for about a year longer than those who often watched TV.
"This study suggests that physical activity and less television could help you live free from (cardiovascular) disease for more years," said Carmen Cuthbertson, the study's lead author. "Because cardiovascular disease is such a big burden in the United States, we wanted to focus on how you can extend the life years you live healthy," said Cuthbertson, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Sitting for long makes you sick
The study was limited by the fact that the participants were asked only about "leisure" activities and not about housework or physical activities during work or commuting. The scientist said she wants future studies to include portable devices to track physical activity and sedentary time.
Bethany Barone Gibbs, professor of health and physical activity at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the study, praised the research, which was not about death, but about how people can live longer without cardiovascular disease be able to live. While the results do not prove that frequent television causes heart disease, they help clarify how physical inactivity affects health.
“Studies have shown that people who sit for hours develop various vascular disorders - blood builds up in the legs and blood circulation deteriorates, especially in the extremities, which we believe can lead to vascular damage that can lead to heart disease in the long term,” said Gibbs, vice chair of the American Heart Association's Physical Activity Committee. "Television is just an area for sedentary behavior, but it's also a really changeable behavior," she said.
Effects on cardiovascular health
The study said the study started in the late 1980s before smartphones and the Internet had an impact on how long people sit in front of screens, Gibbs said. She called for new in-depth research into how the total sitting time and excessive viewing of television programs affect cardiovascular health.
"Now we can sit back and don't even have to lift a finger to watch the next show on Netflix," Gibbs said. "I think television is becoming an even more important goal when it comes to behavior changes and reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease." (Ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Journal of the American Heart Association: Associations of Leisure ‐ Time Physical Activity and Television Viewing With Life Expectancy Free of Nonfatal Cardiovascular Disease: The ARIC Study, (accessed: September 10, 2019), Journal of the American Heart Association
- American Heart Association: Less TV, more activity may mean extra years free of heart disease and stroke, (access: 10.09.2019), American Heart Association