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Study finds physical activity offsets risks of excessive screen time

Young female training in gym healthy lifestyle treadmill

A new study published in the biomedical journal BMC Medicine has found that physical activity may offset the risks associated with increased screen time.

Discretionary screen time is a major contributor to sedentary behaviour, which is associated with increased risk of heart disease, cancer and early death. However, this five year UK study based on 390,089 participants (aged 40-69) found that the negative health risks of associated with increased screen time may be partially offset by physical activity, fitness and strength levels.

Controlling for other influences, the study found an overall link between increased screen time and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death, but those who were in the top third in terms of either fitness (exercise bike test), strength (grip strength) or physically activity, had their risks associated with increased screen time cut by more than half (e.g. for the fitness third the CVD HR (Hazard Ratio – a measure of risk) = 1.01, for least fittest third = 1.10).

The full study “Associations of discretionary screen time with mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer are attenuated by strength, fitness and physical activity: findings from the UK Biobank study” can be downloaded here.

Reference:

Celis-Morales, C. A., Lyall, D. M., Steell, L., Gray, S. R., Iliodromiti, S., Anderson, J., … & Sattar, N. (2018). Associations of discretionary screen time with mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer are attenuated by strength, fitness and physical activity: findings from the UK Biobank study. BMC Medicine, 16(1), 77.

Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.