Thursday, January 13, 2011

Inactivity is Harmful

People who sit in front of computer and TV screens all day and evening may not get a clean bill of health by squeezing some sporadic time in at the gym. A mounting body of evidence suggests that it's not "how much exercise people get, but how much of their time is spent in sedentary activity, and the harm that it does."

A recent study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates "the amount of leisure time spent sitting in front of a screen can have such an overwhelming, seemingly irreparable impact on one’s health that physical activity doesn’t produce much benefit."

"The study followed 4,512 middle-aged Scottish men for a little more than four years on average. It found that those who said they spent two or more leisure hours a day sitting in front of a screen were at double the risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event compared with those who watched less. Those who spent four or more hours of recreational time in front of a screen were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause. It didn’t matter whether the men were physically active for several hours a week — exercise didn’t mitigate the risk associated with the high amount of sedentary screen time."

Even children have increased blood pressure and are more overweight with more sedentary lifestyles.

This study and several others emphasize the fact that it's important to get off the office chair and couch whenever possible and work those muscle groups. And when it comes to the discretionary time spent in front of the TV or computer, it may do your body a lot of good by seeking out alternative forms of recreation for yourself and your children.

From NYT article 'The Hazards of the Couch"