Ever worried that too much TV might actually be rotting your brain? Well it turns out your parents’ scare tactic might actually be true.
After analysing 25 years worth of data collected from 3,247 people aged 18 to 30, a study from the Northern California Institute for Research and Education has discovered a link between watching TV, a lack of exercise and declining brain function.
The study found that those who watched the most TV and did the least physical activity tended to undergo the greatest cognitive decline over the time period. Earlier research has shown a link between watching TV, sedentary behaviour and decreasing brain function in old age, however this study shows that the decline could happen much earlier.
According to the research:
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 behaviours may be critical targets for prevention of cognitive ageing even before middle age.
So, now we’re all wondering what counts as ‘high television viewing’. Apparently anything above three hours a day. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, watching TV was Americans’ most popular leisure activity in 2014, using up more than half of leisure time, on average, for people aged 15 and over.
According to Time magazine, the study also found that a lack of exercise – less than two and a half hours a week – was a major factor in quickly declining brain function. But critics have accused the findings of being skewed as people with lower brain function might simply be more likely to sit around watching TV, whereas people with higher function are more likely to lie about how much TV they actually watch.
Looks like we should be doing fewer Netflix marathons and more actual marathons guys.