Spending too much time in front of a television or computer screen could increase your risk for heart disease or even a heart attack.
A new British study says the basic problem is just sitting for too long. The study found that people who sit in front of a screen or just sit for more than four hours a day are two times more likely to have heart problems.
"Our research suggests that screen time and perhaps sitting in general can be very detrimental for overall and cardiovascular health," said lead researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis, a senior research associate in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London.
Researchers stress that exercise does not take away from the risk. They say that the problem is that people sit all day at work, and then sit some more during their leisure time.
For the study, Stamatakis's team collected data on 4,512 adults who responded to the 2003 Scottish Health Survey, which among other things asked about leisure time activities.
During 4.3 years of follow-up, 325 of these people died and 215 had a cardiovascular event, the researchers reported.
One way to keep healthy is to limit the amount of time spent sitting, Stamatakis said. Start by watching less TV, which many people do three to four hours a day, he added.
"This is excessive," he said. "And besides, TV watching is a waste of time in the most passive and uncreative way, in most cases. It also displaces hugely beneficial physical activity and, according to our findings, is also linked to unique and distinct risks for health."
The report is published in the Jan. 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.