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Study: High television viewing and low physical activity can significantly worsen long-term cognitive function

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Too much TV, low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty may wors­en cog­ni­tive func­tion (Med­ical News Today):

The team’s study includ­ed more than 3,200 adults aged 18–30…Over 25 years, the researchers record­ed par­tic­i­pants’ tele­vi­sion view­ing time and phys­i­cal activ­i­ty levels…In the study, high tele­vi­sion view­ing was defined as more than 4 hours dai­ly, while low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty was defined as activ­i­ty below 300 Kcal per 50-minute ses­sion, three times week­ly. If par­tic­i­pants met these def­i­n­i­tions in more than two thirds of assess­ments, they were deemed as hav­ing a long-term pat­tern of high tele­vi­sion view­ing and low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty.

At the end of the 25-year study peri­od, par­tic­i­pants took part in tests that assessed their cog­ni­tive func­tion, includ­ing mem­o­ry, exec­u­tive func­tion and pro­cess­ing speed.

Sev­en­teen per­cent of par­tic­i­pants had a long-term pat­tern of low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty over the 25 years, 11% had a long-term pat­tern of high tele­vi­sion view­ing and 3% had a long-term pat­tern of both.

The researchers found that high tele­vi­sion view­ing and low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty among par­tic­i­pants were inde­pen­dent­ly asso­ci­at­ed with sig­nif­i­cant­ly poor­er cog­ni­tive func­tion in mid-life, while sub­jects with both fac­tors were near­ly two times more like­ly to have worse cog­ni­tive func­tion in mid-life…“Because research indi­cates that Alzheimer’s and oth­er demen­tias devel­op over sev­er­al decades, increas­ing phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and reduc­ing seden­tary behav­ior begin­ning in ear­ly adult­hood may have a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic health impact.”

The Study

Effect of ear­ly adult pat­terns of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and tele­vi­sion view­ing on midlife cog­ni­tive func­tion (JAMA Psy­chi­a­try)

  • Objec­tive: To inves­ti­gate the asso­ci­a­tion between 25-year pat­terns of tele­vi­sion view­ing and phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and mid-life cog­ni­tion
  • Con­clu­sions and Rel­e­vance: High tele­vi­sion view­ing and low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty in ear­ly adult­hood were asso­ci­at­ed with worse midlife exec­u­tive func­tion and pro­cess­ing speed. This is one of the first stud­ies to demon­strate that these risk behav­iors may be crit­i­cal tar­gets for pre­ven­tion of cog­ni­tive aging even before mid­dle age.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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