The statistics suggest that too much TV may be as dangerous as smoking and lack of exercise in reducing life expectancy, the researchers said.
For example, smoking can shorten of life expectancy by more than four years after the age of 50. That represents 11 minutes of life lost for every cigarette and that's the same as half an hour of TV watching, the researchers said.
Without TV, researchers estimated life expectancy for men would be 1.8 years longer and for women, 1.5 years longer.
"While we used Australian data, the effects in other industrialized and developing countries are likely to be comparable, given the typically large amounts of time spent watching TV and similarities in disease patterns," the researchers noted.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, associate chief of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, said that "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."
And although participating in a regular exercise program can help, it may not be enough to offset the risks of spending too much of the rest of the day -- while at work or at home -- getting no exercise whatsoever.
"Staying active and reducing time spent sedentary may be of benefit in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and may be considered as part of a comprehensive approach to improve cardiovascular health," Fonarow added.
Dr. Robert J. Myerburg, a professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, added that "a sedentary lifestyle can reduce life expectancy."
Myerburg isn't sure why sitting around is not good for your health. "It's better to look at it from a positive prospective," he said. "Th
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