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Watching TV and Adult Fitness

Study shows relationship between watching TV as a child and aerobic fitness later in life.

Illustration of child watching tv

Did your parents limit your television watching, to your dismay? They may have had good intentions—and you may be benefitting now! Researchers found a clear relationship between watching TV while growing up and cardiorespiratory fitness in adulthood. The findings are published in the European Journal of Sports Science (2022; doi:10.1080/17461391.2021.2023659).

Researchers from Australia and South Africa gathered longitudinal data on 449 male and female participants, noting television viewing habits at ages 5, 8, 10, 14, 17 and 20. Then at age 28, participants took a VO2 max test and a physical activity questionnaire.

Data analysis showed a clear connection between the amounts of television watching, cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity levels in later life. High levels of watching TV during childhood and adolescence had negative downstream impacts on cardiovascular fitness in adulthood. Study authors support more public health messages to parents, schools and government to increase physical activity levels throughout youth and adolescence.

See also: Childhood Activity and Midlife Brain Fitness

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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