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Too much screen time will kill you – leave your computer and start exercising now

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Posted May 30, 2018

What do you do on your free time? You relax with a good book? Maybe you go for a long walk with your dog? Or maybe you like swimming or even woodworking? Well, most likely you just sit and look at some screens. A team of scientists led by the University of Glasgow found that staring too much at TV or computer screen results in an elevated risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease.

People work, rest and communicate in front of screens and it is really bad for their health. Image credit: Matthew Bowden via Wikimedia

Staring at screens all day is probably slowly killing you, especially if you are not very fit or physically active. Your work probably requires using a computer, but you are spending your free time in front of a screen as well. This new study revealed that screen time is actually an important contributor to overall sedentary behaviour, which is terrible for your cardiovascular health. Don’t believe it? Well, this is probably the biggest study of its kind, so its conclusions are quite serious.

This research involved 390,089 participants from the UK Biobank. Scientists tried to find a link between screen-induced sedentary behaviour and higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death. They did find this link pretty conclusively and also discovered that those who low fitness levels or low grip strength are twice as vulnerable to prolonged screen times. And, of course, those who had good grip strength and high fitness levels were suffering less from too much screen time. In other words, this study shows how it is possible to reduce negative effects of sedentary behaviour – you just have to remain fit.

Higher levels of screen time could also be associated with all-cause mortality, as well as a higher risk of both heart disease and cancer. And yes, scientists did take into account other factors, such as BMI, smoking, diet and socio-economic status. Dr Carlos Celis, the first author of the study, said: “While fitness testing can be difficult to measure in healthcare and community settings, grip strength is a quick, simple and cheap to measure so could easily be implemented as a screening tool in a variety of settings”. Those who are spending a lot of their time in from of different screens can benefit greatly from exercising. Of course, starting is never easy, but some programmes could be created to encourage these people.

Grip strength is very fascinating. Average grip strength decreased dramatically over the last couple of decades. Scientists are now discovering that weak grip strength can be associated with  poor overall health and higher risk of death. Staying fit is the best way to mitigate that.

 

Source: University of Glasgow

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