Studies show that watching hours of television per day dramatically increases health risks. (Mikael Altemark)

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Scientists are giving us one more reason to attend a prayer meeting after work instead of parking in front of the TV watching your favorite show on TBN.

Adults who watch TV for three hours or more each day may double their risk of premature death, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors," says Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study's lead author and professor and chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. "Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality."

How big is the risk of death by TV watching for couch potatoes? Twofold higher for study participants that reported watching three or more hours of TV a day compared to those watching one or less hours. Noteworthy is the fact that researchers did not find a significant correlation between time spent using a computer or driving and higher risk of premature death from all causes.

"As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging," says Martinez-Gonzalez. "Our findings suggest adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one to two hours each day."

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