Scientists in the US have conducted experiments in order to quantify precisely how dangerous it is to spend too much time sitting around on the sofa. By examining several different studies and combining the results, a group of American scientists have estimated that if people were to reduce the amount of time they spend sitting in front of the television to less than two hours each day, their life expectancy would increase by one and a half years on average.
Peter Katzmarzyk, a scientist who works in Louisiana ain the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, also examined what the effect of excessive amounts of sitting time (such as the hours people spend watching television) on a person’s life expectancy. The article was published in a medical journal called BMJ open. Katzmarzyk found that the less time people spent on the sofa, the higher the chance that they would reach old age in a healthy state. He looked at two separate studies in which several hundred people were asked about the amount of time they spent sitting.
The first study, which was conducted by the Canadian Fitness Group, asked participants how many of the waking hours they spent sitting, regardless of whether they were working or watching televisions. The survey’s results revealed that more than fifty percent of those who answered the question spent sixty percent of their time sitting down.
The second study, conducted by an American health organisation questioned volunteers about their leisure time, and what activities they did most frequently. The results were very similar to the first study, with more than half of all the participants admitting that they spend two thirds of their free time sitting. In his articles, Katzmarzyk concluded that there is a very strong probability that watching television, and sitting around for long periods of time, reduces a person’s life expectancy by several years.
Baxendale Walker commented on the findings, stating that there needed to be a significant shift in the way people behave during their leisure time. They added that it’s essential for people to take part in healthy, physical activities when they have some free time, as so many professional’
Professor David Spiegelhalter, who lectures at Cambridge agrees with this, and has stated that it certainly seems plausible that life expectancy could increase if people moved more, however he also added that he was doubtful as to whether it was possible to convince people to give up their favourite television shows.