18 March, 2019
It is a well-known fact that watching TV is one of the favorite pastimes for most folks, and seniors are no exception to this. While the ladies are stuck to serials and cookery or reality shows, men may be equally addicted to sports and news channels! Many seniors say they watch TV to escape boredom and keep themselves occupied. This may be more so, especially if the seniors are staying alone, and do not have the company of family or friends.
While on the one side, sitting in one place for long hours, and being immobile, can cause you a lot of health issues, it appears that now there is something more serious as well, for you to switch off that TV.
What does the research say?
One study conducted on this topic says that people who watch TV for than 5 hours a day are more likely to have walking disabilities later in life. The probability was as high as 65%. This risk is more so when people do not indulge in necessary exercise every day. This study was conducted on people in the age group of 50 to 71. While the walking disability may be something that is predicted as something that has high chances of happening, there is something else more serious as well.
Another study suggests that watching TV for more than 3.5 hours a day can contribute to cognitive decline. Per se, we all know that cognitive decline is something that most elderly population dreads. The onset of dementia, especially Alzheimer’ disease, is a grave concern among the aged as well as their caretakers. There is a lot of research going on in this direction to try and understand why it happens, and whether it is humanly possible to intervene and prevent it.
A study conducted on people aged 50+ showed that viewing TV for more than 3.5 hours, caused poor verbal memory. And they had taken some other factors also into consideration, that usually are risk factors, and yet the TV viewing came out as a factor, affecting cognitive decline. Since prevention of dementia is a significant concern for the growing population, perhaps, keeping a watch out and not watching TV for more than 3 hours a day, can help in keeping our cognitive capabilities intact.
While studies are still trying to understand what could be the connection, it is being suggested that TV viewing causes extensive brain activity, with a passive body. It is said that this can perhaps put some cognitive stress on the brain. This stress may, in turn, affect our verbal memory skills and tax it further. Hence, this can lead to overall cognitive decline, especially when you watch TV for long, like a couch potato. This is more so if you are aged over 50 years. So, perhaps, it is in your best interests to switch off that TV, once in a while, and take a walk, or indulge in some other physical activity, to keep the brain safe.
The way forward
The reason people get addicted to watching TV for long hours is that they do not get out or socialize. If you have a healthy social life or family life, you may be safe. Also, getting some proper exercise daily, like going for walks, jogs, or doing some yoga, and engaging with some clubs, outings, classes, volunteer activities, etc. can also keep you occupied and away from the TV. If you develop some hobbies also, you can spend some time creatively and satisfactorily, rather than being stuck with the TV and the serials. Finding all kinds of alternates to TV viewing is healthy, and will stand in good stead, to keep you healthy and mentally sharp as you age.
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