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Thursday, June 13, 2024

TV watching is the worst type of sitting

Dr. Veita Bland / June 16, 2017

So many people are trying to take better care of their bodies by eating right and exercising. Some are building periods of exercise into their days while others have the ability to go and exercise before, during or after work. More employers have recognized that a healthier work force means a decrease in the cost of health insurance in the long run and a decrease in absenteeism. I have always said that a gym membership is great but not a necessity to getting exercise. A good pair of tennis shoes and the will to walk will go a long way.
A couple of years ago we learned that people who had sedentary jobs were less healthy and heavier than those who had more active jobs. I do not think this was a big surprise to most. The surprise came as research began to show that sitting was not healthy, even if we did our exercise on a regular basis. If we sit for long periods of time sitting could negate that exercise.
Some researchers have studied young people for heart disease from the age of 18 to 30 years starting back in 1985 and 1986. The centers for this study were located in Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago; Minneapolis; and Oakland, California. Researchers recruited equal numbers of Black, White, female and male participants. They wanted to know if the type of sedentary activity made a difference. They divided the sedentary activities into several groups.

The six groups included: watching television; using a computer for none work activities such as playing games; doing non-computer office work or paperwork; listening to music, reading, or doing arts and crafts; talking on the phone or texting; and siting in a car, bus, train, or other mode of transportation.

The researchers followed these people regularly and a paper recently revealed the findings. The first discovery was that those who significantly engaged in these sitting activities tended to be younger, Black, unemployed and have no health insurance. They also noted that when all the studies were done, those individuals who sat in front of the television had the worst health.
They were not sure why but felt that those who sat in front of the television were motionless for longer periods of time. While those who were using the phone or playing on the computer might move around more. Likewise they thought that those reading or doing paper work again were more likely to change positions as they continued. Some felt that those riding transportation would have to get up and transfer to other locations. Researchers also questioned whether the study participants who sat in front of the television may have just “zoned out” and found themselves also eating more chips, sodas, etc.

Of note, when the study participants substituted any of the other sedentary activities with television watching there was an increase in their cardiovascular risk.
So we must continue to exercise on a regular basis. We must stay active and not sit for long periods of time. Maybe those fitness monitors that remind us to move every so often would be helpful. We must resist the temptation to “zone out” in front of the television. No more binge watching for you.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on North Carolina A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at


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