Would you trade 22 minutes of your life for an hour of television viewing? (By comparison, a commonly cited statistic estimates the average shortening of lifespan from one cigarette to be 11 minutes.) Could catching up on your favorite TV shows really be slowly killing you?
And no, we're not talking about the plot of Andrew Niccol's forthcoming dystopian time thriller; we're talking about real life. A preliminary study conducted by researchers in Australia, the findings of which are published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that the stakes of sedentary television viewing may be higher than we once thought.
The researchers looked at data collected from over 11,000 adults over the age of 25, and constructed what they call a "lifetime risk framework." From the framework, the authors determined that just 2 hours of television a day was enough to decrease life expectancy in men by 1.8 years, and 1.5 years in women. Watching for six hours a day was linked to a nearly five year decrease in life expectancy.
The authors point out that they do not believe their results are linked to a lack of exercise (something the researchers classify as an entirely separate behavioral risk factor), but rather sedentary behavior – which makes this research the latest in a long line of attacks in the recent war on sitting.
The study's authors admit that the precision of the analysis is limited, and recommend that further investigations be conducted. That being said, it does give you good reason to object the next time your friends are in the mood for some bad television. When every 3 minutes of television watching is taking a minute off the end of your life, scientists everywhere agree: you'd better be watching something awesome.