Attention Binge-Watchers: Watching Too Much TV Could Potentially Kill You

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Former West Coast Editor
3 min read

Binge-watching may not just be bad for your brain. It may not do a body good either, and now new research suggests it could even kill you.

You might not want to sit down for this, couch potatoes, but Japanese scientists have discovered that sitting on your duff and marathon-watching TV for hours on end can increase your risk of dying from a blood clot to the lungs.

The researchers, hailing from the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, analyzed the TV viewing routines of some 86,000 people ages 40 to 79, from 1988 to 1990. They then tracked study participants’ physical health for 19 years following the TV-watching data collection period.

Related: Binge-Watching Is Our New Normal

Their findings: Participants who zoned out on TV for 2.5 to 4.9 hours per day had a 70 percent higher risk of dying from pulmonary embolism than participants who watched fewer than 2.5 hours per day. That risk increases by 40 percent for each additional two hours of TV watching a day.  

Of the total number of participants monitored in the study, 59 died from a pulmonary embolism, though researchers suspect that number would be higher if not for underreporting. The results of the study were published yesterday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

A pulmonary embolism can take place when a clot of blood, often originating from the deep veins of the pelvis or legs, gets lodged in your lungs and blocks blood flow to the heart.

“Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programs in one sitting has become popular,” medical doctor and primary study author Toru Shirakawa said in a statement released alongside the findings.  “This popularity may reflect a rapidly growing habit.”

Related: No Time to Exercise? 3 Reasons Short Workouts Are Better Than Longer Ones

To reduce your risk while staring at the boob tube, the researchers suggest getting up at least once an hour and stretching. “After an hour or so, stand up, stretch, walk around, or while you’re watching TV, tense and relax your leg muscles for five minutes,” additional study author Hiroyasu Iso said.

We’re no scientists, but we’re guessing you’ll further reduce your risk if you put the remote down and head for that thing just beyond your window, that world of wonder known as the Great Outdoors. And, if you must stare down at a screen while you’re out there, at least play Pokemon Go. Sure, you’ll look like a dork, but at least you’ll be moving.

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