Being Sedentary Increases Death Risk, Even if You Exercise

by Bob Curley on June 8, 2011

For older adults, how much time you spend sitting may increase your chance of dying, even if you get the minimum levels of physical activity recommended by the government, a new study suggests.

People who watch television five to six hours per day have as much as a 50-percent increased mortality risk even if they get four to seven hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, according to researchers led by Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute. These adults also have a two-fold risk of cardiovascular death compared to those who exercise the same amount of time but watch less than an hour of television per day, Medscape Medical News reported June 6.

With or without exercise, television viewing appears to be bad for you. People who watch TV seven or more hours daily have a higher overall risk of death than those who watch less than one hour per day, the study finds.

“The results add to the growing evidence that the adverse effects of sedentary behavior are independent of the benefits gained from moderate to vigorous activity,” Matthews says.

Study data comes from the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study, which followed 240,819 adults ages 50 to 71 over 8.5 years.

The findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in Denver.

Reader Question: How many hours of TV do you watch per day?

(Photo © Island Joe via Flikr Creative Commons)