MONDAY, July 31, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The more television people watch, the less they exercise, says a U.S. study that used pedometers to record participants' activity levels.
The study of 486 low-income housing residents in Boston found that each hour of television viewing was associated with 144 fewer steps walked per day. Overall, the study volunteers watched an average of 3.6 hours a day of television, which works out to 519 fewer steps per day.
Some participants reported watching no television, while others said they watched as much as 14.5 hours a day on weekdays and 19 hours daily on the weekends.
The researchers also found that for each hour of television they watched, participants were 16 percent less likely to walk 10,000 steps a day, which approximates recommended daily activity levels.
People who watched the average of 3.6 hours of television per day were 47 percent less likely to reach the 10,000 steps goal than those who didn't watch television.
"Clearly, the more time a person spends watching television, the less time they have to be physically active, and in many lower income communities, other factors might have influenced the study participants' decisions to spend time watching television," study lead author Gary Bennett of the Center for Community-Based Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a prepared statement.
Fear of street crime and poor upkeep of parks and playground equipment may be among the factors that keep people inside watching television, Bennett added. He noted that older people in this study were particularly likely to stay inside and watch television, which may reflect their increasing isolation in society.
The findings were published online in the American Journal of Public Health and were expected to be in the September print issue.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.