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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UNC: Less TV, More Activity May Mean Extra Years Free of Heart Disease and Stroke

People who watch less TV and are physically active live more years free of heart disease, according to a new study.

Past research has shown people who are highly physically active tend to live more years free of cardiovascular disease. But researchers of a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association wanted to look specifically at how TV viewing habits fit into the equation.

Using data from 13,534 people ages 45 to 64, investigators studied three factors – how much TV people generally watched; how often they were physically active in their leisure time; and how long they lived without having a stroke, heart failure or coronary heart disease.

TV watching impacted health regardless of physical activity, the study found. Those who seldom watched or never watched TV lived about a year longer free of each type of cardiovascular disease than those who often watched TV.

“This study suggests that engaging in any physical activity and viewing less TV could help you live more years free of (cardiovascular) disease,” said Dr. Carmen Cuthbertson, the study’s lead author.

“Because there’s such a large cardiovascular disease burden in the U.S., we wanted to focus on how to extend the years you live in health,” said Dr. Cuthbertson, a recent graduate of — and current postdoctoral fellow with — the epidemiology department at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The study was limited, she added, by the fact that participants were asked only about “leisure time” activity and not about household chores or physical activity during work or commuting. She said she’d like future studies to incorporate wearable devices to track physical activity and sedentary time.

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