We’ve heard for years about the dangers of television: articles abound on the link between TV and childhood obesity, violence, and even teen pregnancy. Now a new study links time spent watching television to an increased risk of death. That’s right — not only will TV make you fat, violent, and knock you up — it’ll kill you, too.

After tracking 8,800 people for an average of six years, Australian researchers found that study participants who watched more than four hours of television per day were “46 percent more likely to die of any cause and 80 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people who reported spending less than two hours a day” in front of the TV. If you think daily exercise is the antidote to television’s apparent poison, think again. Participants in the study averaged about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise a day, but their risk of death from cardiovascular disease increased by 18 percent for each hour they reported watching TV.  

It turns out that even with regular cardiovascular exercise, prolonged periods of sedentary inactivity such as watching TV, reading, or commuting, can “affect the body’s processing of fats and other substances that contribute to heart risk.” 

Put simply, you should avoid extended periods of sitting

Dr. David Dunstan, a researcher at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and the leader of the study explains, “the implication of these findings is that the extraordinary amount of sitting can undo the good effects that we know are a benefit when we get regular exercise.” 

Never before has the rallying call to “kill your TV” been more critical, but if you simply can’t kick the habit, consider incorporating household chores such as folding laundry, sweeping, or dusting into your viewing time. For more info, support, and ideas, check out the Center for Screen-Time Awareness.