Watching Lots of TV Increases Risk of Early Mortality

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If you were to see a sign prompting you to take the stairs instead of the elevator, would you do it? A lot of people apparently would, suggests a new study. The study, featured in today’s Cancer Research Update, looked at the effects of seeing the image developed by New York City government officials (right).

Through a lot of observing and counting, researchers found that people immediately began switching from the elevators to the stairs after posting the sign. And more people were still climbing stairs nine months later.

Along with its main finding, the study illustrates ways we can build physical activity into the day. That’s important because being active for 30-minutes or more every day reduces the risk of several cancers, along with other chronic diseases.

But moving throughout the day may influence our health beyond that isolated activity time: A growing body of research now suggests there are health perils of not moving – being sedentary.

In the latest study on sedentary behavior, researchers looked at the activity and sedentary habits of almost a quarter of a million participants. At the start of the study, participants were ages 50 to 71, and did not have cancer, heart disease, or respiratory disease.

After 8.5 years, participants who were the most sedentary had the greatest risk of death during the course of the study. Even among participants who were active for more than 7 hours per week, those who watched 7 hours or more of TV had the greatest risk of dying compared to those who watched an hour or less. (How much time people spend watching television is a common measure of sitting time for studies.)

This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Here’s the abstract.

The active participants who sat the most had an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer specifically.

One of the authors of this latest study is National Cancer Institute researcher Charles E. Matthews. Dr. Matthews presented at last year’s AICR Research Conference. Here, he talks about inactivity and cancer risk.

Are there things you have done to sit less and move more? Please share.


Author: Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is at American Institute for Cancer Research, where she writes about the research in the field.

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