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Posted: November 3, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Health and Fitness: Too Much TV Time Bad For Muscular Fitness Levels

High screen time equals lower fitness, even for active individuals

INDIANAPOLIS -- Obesity isn't the only negative side effect of excessive television watching. A new study from the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that young adults who tune in to two hours or more of TV per day have poor muscular fitness.

Researchers Niko Paalanne and Tuija Tammelin of Finland studied more than 870 Finnish young men and women around 19 years of age. Subjects' muscular fitness was measured using trunk rotation, trunk flexion, press strength and jumping height. Those who watched the most television – at least two hours per day – performed significantly worse in the tests.

"One of the most startling findings in our research was that about half of the young adults studied were watching TV at least two hours per day," Paalanne said. "That equates to nearly 15 hours per week – time that could be spent doing healthy, productive activities."

The problem may be further magnified for American adults who, according to Nielsen ratings, watch approximately 142 hours of television per month on average, equating to more than four hours per day.

Another significant finding in the Finnish study was that young adults with high levels of TV viewing time had low levels of muscular fitness regardless of their overall physical activity level.

"To our knowledge, our study is the first to report such an association," Tammelin said. "More research needs to be done to further investigate this correlation. It's possible that some young adults are doing basic levels of aerobic physical activity but leaving out the important strength training element."

ACSM recommends strength training twice per week, in addition to at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity, easily achieved in 30-minute segments five days per week.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 41, No. 11, pages 1997-2002) or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200 ext. 127 or 133. Visit ACSM online at

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

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