How Watching Too Much TV Can Age Your Brain

The hand of a person using a remote control on a TV in the background
Dennis Fischer Photography/Getty Images

Sorry, Netflix fans. All that binge-watching could make your brain grow old before its time. A study in the online edition of JAMA Psychiatry looked at the television-viewing habits of more than 3,000 participants over a quarter-century — and the results don’t look good for folks who spend long hours in front of the screen.

People who spent three hours a day watching TV and did little exercise experienced worse midlife executive function. That means their mental skills — like managing time, paying attention and remembering details — were worse than those of their more active peers.

To learn more, check out this article on Staying Sharp: How to Protect Your Brain Between Age 50 and 65.

The study authors point out that it’s not simply that TV shows are zapping your brain powers — it's the physical inactivity while you’re watching. “High television viewing and low physical activity in early adulthood were associated with worse midlife executive function and processing speed,” the study noted.

You’re also not putting your brain through its paces when you’re mindlessly following your favorite characters for hours at a time.

Your next move? Hit the power button on the remote control and get off the couch.

Take note, TV lovers: Learn more about how Binge-Watching in Your 20s Linked to Greater Cognitive Aging in Later Life.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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