Even people who regularly exercised and met the U.S. government’s weekly exercise recommendations — 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week — still had an increased risk of VTE. The risk of the blood clot was even higher — 80 percent — for those who were regular exercisers who watched TV “very often” compared to those who “never or seldom” watched.
The study wasn’t designed to prove a cause- and-effect relationship, and other factors may have contributed to the development of VTE. For example, Cushman said, obesity is a known risk factor for developing blood clots.
When they adjusted the data to control for weight, they found that obesity explained about 25 percent of the risk. However, lack of movement was still found to increase the risk of VTE by 50 percent.
Cushman also pointed out that a combination of risk factors can make the odds of developing a VTE even worse. People who had the highest obesity status and watched TV very often had about 2.4 times the risk, she said.
Along with using TV time to exercise, Cushman also recommended taking advantage of digital video recorders, offered by most cable TV providers. These devices allow you to fast-forward through commercials and spend less time watching TV.
Or, she said, take a walk before you sit down to watch TV. “You’ve got to pay to play,” she said, adding that it’s helpful to train yourself to think that way.