You've heard the warnings about kids who are forever glued to their screens, but all that screen time can have devastating health effects for grown-ups.
If you're under 60, too much time using a computer, watching TV or reading could boost your risk for a stroke, Canadian researchers warn.
"Be aware that very high sedentary time with little time spent on physical activity can have adverse effects on health, including increased risk of stroke," said study author Dr. Raed Joundi, a stroke fellow at the University of Calgary, in Alberta.
For the study, which was published Aug. 19 in the journal Stroke, Joundi's team looked at 143,000 Canadian adults who had no history of stroke, heart disease or cancer.
Over about nine years, these adults averaged 4.08 hours a day of sedentary leisure time (hours on a computer, reading and watching TV). Those 60 and younger devoted 3.9 hours a day to such activities; 60- to 79-year-olds, 4.4 hours; and those 80 and older, 4.3 hours a day.
Adults 60 and under who were inactive and reported eight or more hours a day of sedentary leisure time had more than four times the risk of stroke compared to those whose inactive leisure was under four hours a day.
Those in the least active group -- eight or more hours of sedentary time and low physical activity -- were seven times more likely to have a stroke compared to those who were more active and spent less than four sedentary hours a day, the study found.
"Physical activity has a very important role in that it reduces the actual time spent sedentary, and it also seems to diminish the negative impact of excess sedentary time," Joundi said in a journal news release.
Doctors' recommendations and public health policies should emphasize the importance of being active in young adulthood as well as other healthy habits that lower stroke risk, the study authors suggested.
U.S. adults spend an average 10.5 hours a day using media such as smartphones, computers or TV, and 50- to 64-year-olds spend more time doing so than any other age group, according to the American Heart Association.
The researchers did not ask participants about work-related sedentary time. As a result, they said, that may mean it was underreported among folks with desk jobs.
Previous studies suggest that nearly nine in 10 strokes can be attributed to modifiable risk factors, such as inactivity.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on stroke prevention.
SOURCE: Stroke, news release, Aug. 19, 2021