More screen time may mean less lean time

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Watching hours of television isn’t the best thing kids and teens can do. Studies have shown a connection between high screen time volume and obesity rates.

A new study found a correlation between longer hours of television watching and lower levels of muscular fitness in young adults, but that connection was true regardless of how much physical activity they were getting.

The study group consisted of 381 men and 493 women (average age about 19) who were part of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986. The study participants self-reported via a questionnaire on how much moderate to vigorous activity they did, and how much television they watched. The men and women were also tested for trunk muscle strength and jumping height.

Among the men, 21% said they did at least seven hours a week of brisk exercise and 28% said they did less than two hours a week; among women, 7% exercised briskly for at least seven hours a week, and 41% did less than two hours per week.


Watching television for more than two hours per day was popular -- 49% of men did it, as did 54% of women.

The Finnish researchers also discovered that the most active women outperformed the least active women in trunk extension and trunk flexion tests. Women with the lowest physical activity levels also had the lowest scores on the jumping test.

The guys had similar results -- the most active also had the highest trunk muscle strength and did better on the jumping test.

Also, men and women who watched television for more than two hours a day did worse on all muscular fitness tests compared to those who watched less than two hours a day. However, it was also noted that spending time watching TV was also linked to low muscular fitness despite how much physical activity the men and women got.

‘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,’ lead author Niko Paalanne said in a news release. ‘That equates to nearly 15 hours per week -- time that could be spent doing healthy, productive activities.’

The study appears in the November issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

-Jeannine Stein