First the bad news: Something that you do every day, and probably are doing right this minute, is really bad for your heart. Now for the good news: It's also pretty easy, and absolutely free, to change your ways.
A new study finds that sitting in front of a screen, be it a TV, video game console or computer (but wait, don't get up just yet!) is really bad for your heart. Researchers found that people who do so for more than two hours each day have a significantly greater risk of heart disease, and people who spend four or more hours a day in front of a screen had a 48% greater risk of death and a 125% greater risk of a heart problem than people who did so for less than two hours each day.
It's important to understand that the researchers were only talking about recreational screen time—so, it's not necessarily a risk factor if you're on your butt at work all day, but is if you're also spending your free time planted in front of the TV. They also found that exercise doesn't negate the bad effects of the screen time (something which similar studies have found in the past).
These findings have led the scientists behind them to call for public health guidelines that warn against the cardiovascular dangers of sitting during non-work hours. So, in addition to exercise it sounds like anything that keeps you up and out of your seat—even housework, running errands, looking after kids or grandkids, can be considered a heart-healthy move. Since these activities usually aren't as entertaining as watching your favorite shows or reading your favorite (ahem) websites, it's nice to think that they're good for our health.
What I'd like to know is whether you can erase the unhealthy effects of watching TV if you get up and move around while you're doing it, say by stretching or cleaning the room? Hopefully future studies will shed light on the subject since few of us are willing to drastically slash our screen time.