A lazy lifestyle in early adulthood could damage cognitive ability in middle age, a study suggests
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 5:29PM GMT 02 Dec 2015
Couch potatoes who watch too much television and do not get enough exercise in early adulthood could be damaging their long term intelligence, a study suggests.
Although health experts have known for some time that sedentary behaviour and too much screen time could impact physical health, it is the first research to link a lazy lifestyle to poorer cognitive ability in middle age.
US researchers followed more than 3,200 adults aged between 18 and 30 for 25 years, monitoring their exercise and television habits.
Those who watched three or more hours of television for more than four days a week, and rarely exercised, were twice as likely to score poorly on intelligence and cognition tests after 25 years.
Dr Tina Hoang, of the Northern California Institute for Research and Education, said: “We found that low levels of physical activity and high levels of television viewing during young to mid-adulthood were associated with worse cognitive performance in midlife.
“In particular, these behaviours were associated with slower processing speed and worse executive function but not with verbal memory.
“Participants with the least active patterns of behaviour were the most likely to have poor cognitive function. Individuals with both low physical activity and high sedentary behaviour may represent a critical target group.”