Why 4 hours of TV is bad for your health and Exercise Helps The Brain

January 18, 2010


Tempting though it is in this cold weather, curling up with Cranford could be shortening your lifespan according to an Australian study. It’s not Cranford of course that is the problem, but how many hours you spend in front of the box.

The study was done by Melbourne university and found that Aussies who reported watching four or more hours of TV a day were 46% more likely to die during a 6.6-year period than those who watched less than two hours a day. That’s bad enough, but they also found that the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease during follow-up was 80% greater in the excessive viewers, although statistically, the result attained only borderline significance. Well that’s a relief, but the risk was the same whether the participants also had other risk factors such as low exercise, smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity.

It’s not the TV that’s really to blame, but an increasing habit of living a much more sedentary life than our predecessors. The programmes are not to blame, but the habit of sitting for long periods in a chair is.

It could be time to get out of the chair and head for the hills – or at least for a brisk walk – to keep your metabolism from slowing down to unhealthy levels.

Health Bite: Exercise for Your Brain’s Health

If you need another reason to get up out of the chair, it seems that almost any amount of moderate physical activity in middle age and beyond can reduce the odds of mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 40%. As mild cognitive impairment is associated with a 5-10-fold increased risk of dementia it is worth paying attention. Previous observational studies have shown that physical activity may protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and some evidence suggests that exercise for individuals with mild cognitive impairment offers some protection, too, the authors wrote.

Research by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has found that the benefit applies equally to men and only when moderate exercise was undertaken — not light or vigorous physical activity. I have always been wary of vigorous activity and if this helps me solve more crossword puzzles then I am all for it. If you aren’t sure of the difference, here’s how the Mayo clinic categorised it:

• Light exercise: bowling, leisurely walking, stretching, slow dancing, and golfing using a cart.

• Moderate exercise: brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, swimming, tennis doubles, yoga, martial arts, weight lifting, moderate use of exercise machines, and golfing without use of a cart.

• Vigorous exercise: jogging, backpacking, bicycling uphill, tennis singles, racquetball, skiing, and intense or extended use of exercise machines.


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