Television or TV viewing is one of the most common pastimes for many. We consume any and every form of information from this so-called “idiot box” hours at end, without even realizing our limit. As soon as the television is turned on, our eyes are glued and we just can’t seem to get ourselves to turn the power button off.
Excessive television watching has already been linked to a variety of health problems as well as an increase in snacking tendencies. This holds especially true for the youth of today, whose incessant television viewing habits have caught the fancy of several studies. Last year, a research had suggested that kids with TV in their bedroom are at a higher risk of obesity. Placing TV sets in a child’s room could put them at significantly higher risk of being overweight in later life, according to the study. Another study proves how television viewing also hampers growth and kills creativity in children.
This new research, however, is the first study to look at a link between TV viewing habits and physical function in older adults. The study has successfully found how excessive television content consumption results in impaired physical activity, specifically among the older generation. This makes the study unique- as adults hardly consider their TV habits could be detrimental to their long-term health.
The study has been led by UQ School of Public Health PhD candidate- Natasha Reid. For this latest research, Reid used data from 1,938 participants in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Participants were aged from 47 to 85 at the start of the study, and their habits were closely observed over a 12-year period.
Subjects were classified into six groups based on their TV watching habits, ranging from: consistently low at less than five hours a week (9.7% of participants), low-increasing (22.3%), moderate-decreasing (13.5%), moderate-increasing (30.3%), consistently-high (18.9%), and high-increasing at more than 30 hours of TV watching per week (5.2%).
Almost a third of participants fell into the moderate-increasing range, increasing their weekly TV watching from about 10 hours a week to about 20 hours. The study scientifically established that those who spent less time watching television had significantly better lower-body muscle strength 12 years later.
“On a knee extensor strength test, the consistently low TV watchers performed better than most other groups,” commented Reid, who said the research suggested that excessive TV watching needed to be addressed earlier rather than later in life, as it could make a difference to independent living as we age. Reid’s comments may hold more than true,
Reid further explained, “Future longitudinal studies that examine sitting time and its impact on physical function are also needed.”