MONDAY, July 9, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing the amount of time you spend sitting each day and cutting back on TV watching could add years to your life, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2005-06 and 2009-10 to determine the amount of time that American adults spend watching TV and sitting down each day.
They combined those data with findings from studies that examined the link between the amount of time people spend sitting and deaths from all causes.
And in what they call a causal link, the researchers concluded that if adults limited the amount of time they spent sitting each day to less than three hours, they might increase their life expectancy by an extra two years. Restricting TV viewing to less than two hours per day might extend life by about 1.4 years.
The findings were published online July 9 in the journal BMJ Open.
"The results of this study indicate that extended sitting time and TV viewing may have the potential to reduce life expectancy in the U.S.A.," the researchers wrote in a news release from the journal.
The NHANES data showed that American adults are involved in sedentary pursuits for 55 percent of their day, on average, which means that major population-wide behavioral changes are needed in order to achieve notable improvements in life expectancy, the researchers noted.
A number of previous studies have linked a lot of time sitting or watching TV with poor health, such as diabetes and death from heart disease and stroke.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.