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Television viewing time and mortality

By Jose Recio-Rodriguez


Americans spend about five hours daily in front of a television set according to official statistics. Prolonged television viewing is one of the most common behaviors associated with a sedentary lifestyle and public health authorities consider physical inactivity a major problem. Clinical trials have revealed a dose-response relationship between sitting time and mortality, including from cardiovascular disease. However, the relationship of relatively new indices of vascular function, such as the peripheral augmentation index (a predictor of cardiovascular events), with a sedentary lifestyle has not yet been studied.

In a recent paper, we selected 732 participants in the EVIDENT study, between 20-80 years old and free of cardiovascular diseases. The EVIDENT study explores the association of lifestyle (physical activity, dietary pattern, smoking, or alcohol consumption) with vascular aging assessed by different markers. The study included 1,553 patients and was conducted in six clinics of the Spanish territory.

We found that television viewing time was directly associated with the peripheral augmentation index regardless of physical activity level and other cardiovascular risk factors. This association is equal in men, women, and all ages. Additionally, the nature of what individuals watch on television can play an important role on endothelial function and peripheral/central hemodynamics. This is a potential focus point for future research.

Family watching television, c. 1958. National Archives and Records Administration.

To discourage a sedentary lifestyle, different programs are implemented to promote physical activity among future generations. The First Lady recently launched one of those initiatives  – “Let’s move”. We consider such interventions that produce beneficial changes in lifestyles important. Therefore, our group is working on developing new technologies to support the counseling of physicians and nurses.

In conclusion, the results highlight the importance of avoiding typically sedentary activities to improve the vascular function. In the future we hope to provide new findings about the relation between healthy lifestyles, a balanced diet, or practice regular physical activity with a delay in the arterial aging and therefore a decrease in the cardiovascular risk.

Mr Jose I Recio-Rodriguez is an Investigator Scientist at the “La Alamedilla” Research Unit. He belongs to the preventive activities research network (REDIAPP) and Salamanca Institute for biomedical research (IBSAL). He is co-author of the paper “Association of Television Viewing Time With Central Hemodynamic Parameters and the Radial Augmentation Index in Adults”, published by the American Journal of Hypertension.

The American Journal of Hypertension is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal that provides a forum for scientific inquiry of the highest standards in the field of hypertension and related cardiovascular disease. The journal publishes high-quality original research and review articles on basic sciences, molecular biology, clinical and experimental hypertension, cardiology, epidemiology, pediatric hypertension, endocrinology, neurophysiology, and nephrology.

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One Response to “Television viewing time and mortality”
  1. Heather says:

    There is definitely a major correlation between sitting and various types of diseases, and therefore a higher mortality rate. The number of hours of television watched by the average American (5 hours per day!) astounds me, but we have to also think about where we’re sitting in other areas of our life. One of the major ones is at work. The typical desk jockey spends their 9-5 day in a chair in front of their desk. I think encouraging movement and breaking up prolonged periods of sitting, regardless of whether it’s at home in front of the television or at work in front of a computer, is the best way to prevent some of these adverse health effects.

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