January 12, 2010

It's Not Just TV. Desk Jobs Can Kill You, Too!

This latest research confirms the worse fears of those who think Americans spend too much time in front of the idiot box:
Couch potatoes beware: every hour of television watched per day may increase the risk of dying earlier from cardiovascular disease, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Australian researchers tracked the lifestyle habits of 8,800 adults and found that each hour spent in front of the television daily was associated with: > an 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes, > a 9 percent increased risk of cancer death; and > an 18 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related death.
But contra Kevin Drum, taking up blogging may not be the best idea:

While the study focused specifically on television watching, the findings suggest that any prolonged sedentary behavior, such as sitting at a desk or in front of a computer, may pose a risk to one's health. The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time, said David Dunstan, Ph.D., the study's lead author and professor and Head of the Physical Activity Laboratory in the Division of Metabolism and Obesity at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria, Australia.

"What has happened is that a lot of the normal activities of daily living that involved standing up and moving the muscles in the body have been converted to sitting," Dunstan said. "Technological, social, and economic changes mean that people don't move their muscles as much as they used to -- consequently the levels of energy expenditure as people go about their lives continue to shrink. For many people, on a daily basis they simply shift from one chair to another -- from the chair in the car to the chair in the office to the chair in front of the television."

This point was entirely ignored in the LA Times article linked by Drum. But it's a crucial point. Our society privileges and encourages desk work and frowns on activities that smack of manual labor -- you know, like farming. But that may ultimately prove to be a calamitous mistake.

Flickr photo: Ste3ve

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