Study Finds Inactive Behavior Increases Risk of Death from Heart Disease

Posted on March 11, 2010


Inactive, sedentary, behavior might increase your risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to an Australian study lead by David Dunstan, at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria published in Circulation.

These results are significant because many Australians and Americans spend several hours each day in front of a television being inactive. Although the study focused on television watching, it is most likely applicable to most inactive behavior and other behaviors that revolve around sitting.

The study involved gathering data on 8,800 healthy participants who were age 25 and older. According to the New York Times , by using healthy people the researchers eliminated the potential problem of people who were already ill watching more television as a result of their illness. The 8,800 participants recorded information on their lifestyles, their cholesterol and their blood sugars.

For the study, they divided the participants into three categories, based on their television watching habits: 1) those who watched less than two hours a day; 2) those who watched two to four hours a day’ and 3) those who watched more than four hours a day.

The study showed that for every hour of television you watch, the risk of dying from any cause increases 11 percent. For every hour of television watched, the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease increased 18 percent. Those who watched television for more than four hours per day when compared to those who watched less than two hours per day, had an 80 percent increased risk of dying early from cardiovascular disease and a 46 percent increased risk of dying from any cause.

Over more than six years of follow-up, 284 people had died. Of those 284 deaths, 125 were due to cancer and 87 were due to cardiovascular disease.

The study also found that even if you are healthy and work out frequently, you are still at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease if you spend many hours a day sitting. The researcher’s interview is recounted in an article in HealthDay News.