According to a study led by researchers in the University of Queensland in Australia, prolonged periods of time regularly spent watching television could in the long term have negative effects on people’s health. So what is the impact of excessive television watching?
The impact varies depending on the number of hours of TV per week
Whether we stretch out in front of a television, a computer, or another type of screen, it is the duration for which we stay inactive that has an influence on our body’s health.
We already know that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular illnesses, as well as promoting snacking, obesity and diabetes. However, researchers have discovered a new health consequence of such inactivity.
The study, led by Natasha Reid, a PhD student in the School of Public Health in the University of Queensland, was the first to make the link between television habits and adults’ physical functions.
In order to establish this link, the team analysed data from a study on Australian lifestyle, diabetes and obesity. The study included 1,938 participants, aged from 47 to 58 years of age at the start of the study, and who were followed up for 12 years.
The participants were classified into 6 categories, depending on their habits and TV usage:
- Category 1) low and constant, less than 5 hours a week (9.7% of participants)
- Category 2) low and increasing (22.3%)
- Category 3) moderate and decreasing (13.5%)
- Category 4) moderate and growing (30.3%)
- Category 5) high and constant (18.9%)
- Category 6) high and growing, more than 30 hours per week (5.2%)
Almost one third of participants were classified as being in category 4, “moderate and growing”, with a growing weekly amount of time spent watching television, which was between 10 and 20 hours per week. Almost half of the participants, around 44%, made up categories 4 to 6, and watched a moderate amount or a lot of television, with a tendency for the time spent watching TV to increase over time.
The more TV we watch, the physically weaker we get
The study highlighted the fact that the more TV participants watched, the weaker their lower body muscles were.
In fact, the participants who watched the most television, at more than 10 hours per week, had the weakest muscles in their lower bodies 12 years after the beginning of the study.
After all having undergone a strength test looking at the knee extensors, “the people who watched little television in a constant manner had better results than the majority of other groups”, according to Natasha Reid.
According to Reid, the results of the study suggest that “excessive television watching is a problem that should be addressed as soon as possible in someone’s life, as solving this problem can change the person’s way of living, regardless of their age”.
You can find the results of the study on the website Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.