Too Much TV Is Bad for Your Brain
Not that anyone thinks that staring at a TV screen for hours sharpens your mind, but new research goes a step further. It suggests that the hours that young adults spend immobile in front of TVs can come back to dull their brains in midlife.
For the study at the Northern California Institute for Research and Education at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, researchers looked at the TV viewing habits of more than 3,200 people, who were an average age of 25 at the start of the study.
The researchers asked the participants every five years how many hours per day they spent watching TV during the past year. Every two to five years, they asked the participants if, and how much, they exercised.
After 25 years, the researchers also examined the people’s cognitive function using three tests that assessed the speed at which they processed information, their verbal memory and executive function – mental skills that help people plan, organize and pay attention.
Participants who watched TV more than three hours a day had lower results than those who watched less. Those who exercised less had lower results than those who exercised more.
In addition, the 107 people in the study who both exercised the least and watched more than three hours of TV per day were twice as likely to perform poorly on the cognitive tests, compared with those who spent little time watching TV but exercised more.
The researcher theorized that not only is television viewing not an activity that stimulates the brain, but also that people who watch a lot of TV and don’t exercise much tend to have other unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as a poor diet.
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