In the age of binge-watching, there is no shortage of good things to watch, but is watching this much TV a good thing? Besides spending too much time inside and a lack of exercise, excessively watching TV can have negative health consequences. New research shows that reducing our daily streaming dose could significantly lower our risk of coronary heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is the buildup of fats in the coronary arteries, which narrows them over time and reduces the heart’s blood supply. New research suggests that 11 percent of cases of coronary heart disease could be prevented by watching less than one hour of TV a day.
“Reducing time spent watching TV should be recognized as a key behavioral target for prevention of coronary heart disease, irrespective of genetic susceptibility and traditional risk markers,” said Dr. Youngwon Kim, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong and an author of the research.
There are a few factors that could be behind the association, such as snacking while watching or the availability of TV offering long periods of uninterrupted immobility while watching. Previous studies, though, found a link between excessive watching time and adverse levels of glucose and cholesterol in the body. These lead to a higher risk of heart disease.
In the journal of BMC Medicine, Kim and his team reported that they examined data from 373,026 white British people aged 40-69 who were part of the UK Biobank study. None of them had coronary heart disease or had suffered a stroke according to the Biobank study, but 9,185 of them would later develop it. Even after factoring in body mass index, age, sex, smoking status, diet, amount of physical activity, and level of deprivation, the team found that the more TV participants watched, the greater their chance of developing heart disease.
Those who watched less than an hour of TV a day were 16 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who watched four or more hours a day. Those who watched two to three hours a day had a six percent less chance. This trend held across all ages and even all levels of genetic risk of the disease.
Alongside benefitting your physical and mental health by being outdoors, you can help your heart by minimizing your TV intake and stepping outside into the fresh air.