TV, Internet Pose Health Risks for Full-Time Workers

Medical Author: Melissa Stoppler, M.D.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR

People who work full time and spend time each day in sedentary activities including watching TV, video games, and Web surfing, spend less time exercising than their peers who do not engage in these activities, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's 2005 annual conference on cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, and prevention.

Doctors looked at data collected from over 4,400 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1999 and 2000. Among those who hold full time jobs, people who spent at least five hours per day in sedentary activities did about 11 fewer minutes of physical activity each day than full time workers who did not report spending time on sedentary pursuits. Interestingly, for part-time workers, the opposite held true. Part-time workers who spent five hours or more per day surfing the Web or watching TV actually did more physical activity than part time workers who didn't engage in sedentary activities. The researchers attribute this difference to the part time workers' increased amount of discretionary time.

Over 1300 of the study participants took a treadmill test to measure their overall fitness levels. As might be expected, those who enjoy sedentary activities in their leisure time were slightly less fit than those who spend less time on the Internet and watching TV.