Sitting down to binge watch your favourite TV shows
increases your risk of dying from diseases like diabetes and kidney
Research shows every hour spent sitting watching TV
makes you more likely to die from inflammation-related
Melbourne researchers have made an important link between the
time spent sitting in front of the television and increased risk of
death from inflammatory-related diseases such as Alzheimer's
disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
Using survey data of over 8900 adults, Baker Heart and Diabetes
Institute researchers found that every extra hour per day spent
watching television led to a 12 per cent higher risk of death
linked to inflammation, including diabetes, respiratory, cognitive,
and kidney diseases.
The findings, published in the journal of Medicine &
Science in Sports & Exercise, build on sedentary behaviour
research, including pivotal research from the Baker Institute that
has previously linked TV viewing time with an increased risk of
mortality related to heart disease and some cancers.
The study found that even those who watch moderate levels (2-4
hours per day) may benefit by cutting down their television viewing
Lead author and Senior Research Officer in the Institute's
Physical Activity Laboratory, Dr Megan Grace, says inflammation is a normal
response where chemicals are released into the blood in response to
a harmful event to help recovery.
When the immune system senses danger such as stress or
infection, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect
cells and tissues.
But she says inflammation can become harmful if these chemicals
hang around for long periods, causing disease.
"We know sitting involves reduced muscle activity, and therefore
reduced blood flow. We think this stagnation in the blood vessels
may be leading to an accumulation of inflammatory markers in the
blood and muscles," Dr Grace said.
"Inflammation is a normal response in the body when there's an
injury or infection.
"When the inflammation isn't cleared away and it hangs
around, we think this long-term low-level inflammation is actually
causing damages to tissues that lead to diseases like diabetes,
lung diseases and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's and
Dr Grace said she hoped the findings, published in the
journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, would
help drive new guidelines to include advice on reducing sitting
time in addition to physical activity.
"This data was collected in 2000, before many of these on-demand
TV technologies existed. We think the problem is probably even
worse now than what we recognised," she said.
"The literature is really becoming stronger that even for those
who do meet the daily exercise guidelines, if they go and sit for
the rest of the day they are still at risk of these inflammatory
"Some sitting is good for you, but too much is bad. We need to
move around as much as possible."
Dr Grace said these findings are an important step in finding
out why prolonged periods of sitting may be bad for health. They
also provide further evidence that, in addition to promoting
physical activity, chronic disease prevention strategies should
focus on reducing sitting time.