How Binge-Watching TV Is Damaging Your Brain Function

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Sitting on the couch for hours on end isn’t good for you. Everyone knows that being a couch potato creates a greater risk of obesity and heart disease, but as it turns out it also harms your brain function. According to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, young adults who sat watching TV for more than three hours per day were more likely to have poor cognitive performance than those who did not spend as much time in front of the television.

The study, which was conducted by Tina D. Hoang of the Northern California Institute for Research and Education at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, collected research by studying both men and women for 25 years and found that people who binge-watched TV were more likely to experience “worse midlife executive function and processing speed.”

This essentially shows that there was a slower brain functioning associated with those participants who spend a lot of time zoning out in front of the TV. This study can directly relate to other similar studies which have been conducted to show the negative impact of television on the mind and body.

Another study, conducted at the National Cancer Institute, looked at more than 221,000 people ages 50 to 71, over the course of 14 years. All of the participants were free of any disease at the start of the study.

The researchers grouped people into three groups according to how much TV they watched: screen skimmers (less than one hour a day), average TV watchers (3 to 4 hours a day), or binge-watchers (7 or more hours). Compared to the screen skimmers, average TV watchers were 15% more likely to die from any cause, while the couch potatoes were 47% more likely to die — even when the researchers accounted for things like caloric intake and smoking.

We know what you’re thinking — that you work out more than four times a week, so who cares if you spend a day or two a week binge-watching the latest season of your new favorite show on Netflix? Well you may want to think again, because according to the study, over-watching TV in some cases can essentially erase the workouts that you have put in. Because of this, those who did exercise were just as likely to suffer the harmful effects of TV binges as those who did not.

According to Sarah K. Keadle, the study’s lead author, the study can directly connect to many other studies that have recently come out surrounding the harm of sitting for long periods of time. “Our results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many different adverse health effects,” Keadle said in the release.

And according to Keadle, the best chance of reversing this major health issue is to get up and get active. Exercise is the best way to prevent obesity and heart disease, and incorporating exercise into your daily routines, even performing body-weight exercise while watching TV, is a great way to avoid the harm of sitting and binge-watching.

So next time you want to have a weekend of Netflix and chill, remember you’re not only hurting your body, but also your brain.

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