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Why Your TV Binge-Watching Is Bad for Your Health

By Deborah Day ; Updated August 14, 2017

Did you know that excessive Netflix-and-chillin' could kill you?

A new study shows that -- in case it wasn't obvious -- sitting on your butt for hours at a time can be hazardous to your health.

"Our prospective cohort study suggests that prolonged television watching is a substantial risk factor for mortality from pulmonary embolism," report the authors of a study published July 26, 2016, in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

What in the World Is Pulmonary Embolism and Why Is It Ruining Date Night?

A pulmonary embolism is sudden blockage in a lung artery, which can occur when a blood clot travels to the lung from a vein in the leg, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

In other words: A clot block.

As the study shows, however, a PE is no joke. It can kill.

The mortality rate from PE for people watching less than two and a half hours of television per day is 2.8 (per 100,000). The rate jumps to 4.8 for those watching two and a half hours to almost 5 hours. The rate then increases to 8.2 for those watching over five hours.

Signs You've Been Chillin' Too Long

Signs and symptoms of PE can include unexplained shortness of breath or other problems breathing, chest pain, coughing, coughing up blood or an irregular heartbeat, according to NIH.

Additionally there could be signs of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot that originates in a vein deep in the body) in the form of "swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg, pain or tenderness in the leg, a feeling of increased warmth in the area of the leg that's swollen or tender, and red or discolored skin on the affected leg," the agency notes.

The Study's Methods

The Japanese Collaborative Cohort Study, called "Watching Television and Risk of Mortality From Pulmonary Embolism Among Japanese Men and Women," was derived from the responses of 86,024 participants (36,006 men and 50,018 women) in the study -- which started in the late 80s in 45 regions of Japan and involved 110,585 participants aged 40 to 79.

Sorry to bear bad news, binge-watchers, but you certainly shouldn't be sitting for stretches longer than two and a half hours; in fact, some experts suggest you get up at least once per hour. Others suggest standing and stretching your legs every 15 or 20 minutes.

There may be a date-night compromise: Alternate your activities between Netflix-and-chill sessions and Pokémon GO sprints -- or some other activity that gets your blood pumping.

What Do YOU Think?

Are you guilty of TV binging? Do you think you sometimes overdo it? What shows are you binging? And how do you break away?

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