According to a new study by the University of Queensland, Australia, marathon TV sessions could harm your health in years to come.
A common pastime for many, excessive television watching has already been linked to a variety of health problems, as well as an increase in behaviours such as snacking.
However, the new research, led by UQ School of Public Health PhD candidate Natasha Reid, is the first study to look at a link between TV habits and physical function in older adults.
For the research, Reid used data from 1,938 participants in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab).
Participants were aged from 47 to 85 at the start of the study and followed over a 12-year period.
Subjects were classified into six groups based on their TV watching habits, ranging from consistently low at less than five hours a week (9.7 per cent of participants), low-increasing (22.3 per cent), moderate-decreasing (13.5 per cent), moderate-increasing (30.3 per cent), consistently-high (18.9 per cent), and high-increasing at more than 30 hours of TV watching per week (5.2 per cent).
Almost a third of participants fell into the moderate-increasing range, increasing their weekly TV watching from about 10 hours a week to about 20 hours.
The study showed that those who spent less time watching television had significantly better lower-body muscle strength 12 years later.
"On a knee extensor strength test, the consistently low TV watchers performed better than most other groups," commented Reid, who said the research suggested that excessive TV watching needed to be addressed earlier rather than later in life, as it could make a difference to independent living as we age.
"Future longitudinal studies that examine sitting time and its impact on physical function are also needed," she added.
The results can be found published online in the Journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.