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Study: More Screen Time Increases Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke, Death

couch potato
You can work out all you want, but if you spend a good part of the day sitting in front of a TV or computer screen, you could still be putting your health at serious risk.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who spend more than four hours per day watching TV, surfing the Web or playing video games are 113-percent more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke, compared to those who spend less than two hours per day in front of a screen. Couch potatoes are also 50-percent more likely to die than their more active counterparts -- regardless of their age, gender, exercise routine, and whether or not they smoke.

"Assuming that leisure-time screen time is a representative indicator of overall sitting, our results lend support to the idea that prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and premature mortality," explains the investigation's lead author, Emmanuel Stamatakis of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College in London. "Doing some exercise every day may not compensate for the damage done during very long periods of screen time."

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to offset the risks posed by periods of prolonged inertia. Stamatakis recommends combining screen time with moderate physical activity, like pedaling on a stationary bike, or even standing up every now and then. It's also a good idea to avoid snacking in front of the TV, and to get in at least 30 minutes of formal exercise a day. Working out may not have mitigated the long-term health risks observed in Stamatakis' study, but avoiding the couch isn't exactly a substitute for hitting the gym, either.

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