Besides negatively affecting your brain, TV might also have another damaging effect: raining your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. San Francisco scientists from the Northern California Institute for Research and Education have discovered that this particular effect might not even wait for old age before it starts setting in and wreaking havoc inside the brain.
Researchers had people take tests that measure cognitive response over the span of 25 years, and discovered that those who watched more than four hours a day and led a sedentary lifestyle – low levels of physical activity – presented a greater risk of developing dementia, as their memory performance was significantly weaker starting middle age.
And this is a matter of concern, as explained by Professor Kristine Yaffe, specialized in neurology, psychiatry, and epidemiology at the University of California. She said this is of utmost importance for children and young adults, the generation glued to the sofa and the electronic gadgets they use in their mostly sedentary life.
Prof. Yaffe also had some good news, however, explaining that this effect can be reversed, and people can lower their risk of developing dementia by making a conscious decision to change their lifestyle.
Yaffe presented the results at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, encouraging people to start doing something about it by getting less screen time. According to the association, more than 5 million people in the United States are currently living with Alzheimer’s, with 28 million more estimated to develop the disease by 2050.
By the time we reach 2040, projected costs of caring for people with dementia will take up to 24 percent of Medicare funding, as the generation that’s now growing with a gadget glued to their hands will turn older.
More than 3,200 adults aged 18- to 30-years-old were investigated during the study. Researchers inquired about their physical activity levels and television-viewing habits and the impact these two factors had on cognitive performance.
During the 25-year follow-up, the participants were evaluated three times, and their habits monitored through questionnaires. The definition of low physical activity for the study meant that the participants burned less than 900 calories per week.
Watching too much TV, on the other hand, was defined as spending more than four hours a day in front of it. According to records, about 17 percent of the participants reported low physical activity, while 11 percent exceeded the limit for heavy TV-viewing.
Researchers found that one’s midlife habits set the stage for the next 20 or 30 years, and those who don’t meet the US recommended exercise standards and spend a lot of time in front of the TV have got it all set up for themselves.
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