Heart disease risks rise dramatically among people who spend two or more hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen, television or video-game box, researchers reported Monday. Experts now think that prolonged sitting -- what they call "recreational sitting" -- is especially harmful to heart health.
Scientists at University College London examined data from 4,512 adults. Screen time was defined as TV or DVD watching, video gaming and leisure-time computer use. It did not take into account time spent sitting in front of a screen at work. The participants provided information about any cardiovascular problems.
The people who spent four or more hours a day on non-work screen time had a 48% increased risk of death from any cause and a 125% increased risk of a heart problem compared with people who spent less than two hours a day on screen-based entertainment.
"It is all a matter of habit," Emmanuel Stamatakis, the lead author of the study, said in a news release. "Many of us have learned to go back home, turn the TV set on and sit down for several hours -- it's convenient and easy to do. But doing so is bad for the heart and our health in general."