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Popular American pastime puts elderly at risk of stroke

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Watching TV may be one of the most popular American pastimes. An estimated 55% of people spend between one and four hours watching television every day. But this–scientists say–is a problem, especially for the elderly.

Researchers at San Diego State University College of Health and Human Services looked at more than 7,500 participants averaging between 55 and 72 years old and followed them for four years.  They found every hour spent doing sedentary activities–like watching television–each day when in their 60s and 70s raised the risk of a stroke by 14%. Older adults who barely moved for 13 hours or more of their waking day were 44% more likely to suffer a stroke than those who spent less than 11 hours inactive.

“The findings are more potent because the activity and sedentary behaviors were measured with an accelerometer, providing substantially more accurate data than previous studies that relied on self-reported measures,” said lead study author, Dr. Steven Hooker, in an interview. “We observed that both physical activity and being sedentary independently impacted stroke risk. Our research demonstrates that strategies for stroke prevention should focus on both.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a shocking 77% of Americans do not meet the weekly recommendations for physical activity.