The study of 3,247 adults (ages 18 to 30) used a questionnaire to assess television viewing and physical activity during repeated visits over 25 years. High television viewing was defined as watching TV for more than three hours per day for more than two-thirds of the visits and exercise was measured as units based on time and intensity. Cognitive function was evaluated using three tests that assessed processing speed, executive function, and verbal memory.
Participants with high television viewing during the 25 years (11 percent) were more likely to have poor cognitive performance on some of the tests. Low physical activity during the 25-year period (16 percent of the participants) was associated with poor performance on one of the tests. The odds of poor cognitive performance were almost two times higher for adults with both high television viewing and low physical activity (3 percent of participants), according to the results.
Few studies have investigated the association between physical activity in early adulthood and cognitive function later in life. Coupled with the increasing prevalence of sedentary or screen-based activities, such as watching television, these trends are of concern for upcoming generations of young people.
Read the paper
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- USA Today: Study: too much TV, too little exercise might dull young adult brains
- Forbes: Heads up, couch potatoes: TV really does rot your brain, it seems
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