Too Much TV May Raise Risk of Cognitive Decline

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If you spend too much time sitting in front of the TV or the computer, your risk for heart disease and even premature death may dramatically increase. A new study concludes that watching four or hours or more of screen-based entertainment doubles one's risk of a cardiac event that lands you in the hospital.New research finds that low physical activity and excessive TV viewing between the ages of 18 and 30 may increase the risk of poor cognitive function, including Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia later in life.

The study was presented by the Northern California Institute of Research and Education (NCIRE) in San Francisco recently at the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Washington, D.C.

Other studies have found a correlation between physical activity for older adults and possible protection against lower cognitive function. However, the research team notes that there is a lack of information on the connection between physical activity for younger adults and brain function later in life.

The current study observed more than 3,200 young adults as part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Physical activity levels and TV viewing times were recorded in at least three assessments during a 25-year period. In the study, low physical activity was considered burning less than 300 Kilocalories (Kcal) during a 50-minute session during a thrice-weekly exercise program. The researchers also defined too much TV as four hours or more per day.

After the 25-year study had ended, the participants completed tests to assess cognitive function, such as executive function, processing speed, and memory. For the 25 years, results indicated that 17% of participants had a long-term pattern of physical activity, 11% had the long-term tendency for high TV watching, and three percent showed patterns for both.

Researchers concluded that low physical activity and high TV viewing were linked with a significant cognitive function decline at mid-life. People affected by both factors were twice as likely to have poor cognitive decline at mid-life.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“Too much TV, low physical activity may worsen cognitive function,” Medical News Today web site, July 21, 2015;
“How much physical activity do adults need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site;, last updated June 4, 2015.
“Low Physical Activity and High TV Viewing are Associated with Worse Cognitive Function,” Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, Alzheimer’s Association web site, July 20, 2015;