How Many Years is TV Shaving Off Your Life?

Those hours spent watching television aren’t just wasting your life – they’re shortening it too.

A new study conducted by British researchers has found that watching TV for an average of six hours a day can shorten a person’s life expectancy by almost five years.

The researchers said that the impact of TV watching on longevity rivals that of smoking and lack of exercise.

Sedentary behavior in general is associated with a higher risk of death, especially from heart attack or stroke. Watching TV generally accounts for a substantial amount of sedentary activity.

For the study, researchers analyzed the relationship between TV viewing time and death by using prior data that involved more that 11,000 adults aged 25 or older.

Accounting for other mortality-related factors, the researchers calculated that an individual who spends a lifetime average of six hours a day watching TV typically lives five years fewer than someone who does not watch TV.

In comparison, lifelong smoking is associated with shortening a person’s life expectancy by more than 4 years. Essentially, the researchers said, 30 minutes of TV watching has the same impact as smoking one cigarette.

“If these figures are confirmed and shown to reflect a causal association, TV viewing is a public health problem comparable in size to established behavioural risk factors,” the researchers said.

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.