An active body for an active mind
Like our body, our brain deteriorates as we age. While some cognitive decline is inevitable, some may be preventable.
Smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and dietary patterns are all factors that have been linked to brain health. Given that a number of health habits are formed in younger years and maintained into adulthood, it’s useful to understand how behaviours that start early on and are sustained over a long time period may affect brain health later in life.
Researchers examined the association between long-term physical activity patterns and television viewing time in young adulthood and brain function in midlife. Over 3000 participants aged between 18 and 30 years at the beginning of the study were followed up over a 25 year period.
Long-term physical activity patterns were assessed in addition to time spent watching TV. At 25 years, researchers conducted three cognitive tests that assessed processing speed (ability to perform simple, repetitive cognitive tasks quickly and automatically), executive function (mental skills that assist people in completing tasks and achieving goals) and verbal memory (memory of words and other items relating to language).
Participants with low levels of physical activity and high levels of television viewing in young to mid adulthood had poorer cognitive performance in mid-life. This was particularly relevant to processing speed and executive function.
Young adulthood is an important time in life to make and maintain healthy behaviours. In the modern age of technology, it’s important to make an effort to get up and active throughout the day. This includes monitoring screen time and ensuring that you’re spending part of the day on your feet from your computer.
Other behaviours like not smoking, moderating alcohol intake and have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will also go a long way to promote healthy ageing.
Last Reviewed: 06/06/2018
Norman Swan Medical Communications
Hoang, T et al. (2016). Effect of early Adult Patterns of Physical Activity and Television Viewing on Midlife Cognitive Function. JAMA Psychiatry 73(1): 73 – 79. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2468.
From the mouth to the brain
A study finds an association between number of teeth and cognitive decline in older adults.
Eat well for a long life
Improved long-term diet quality is associated with reduced risk of death and maintaining a healthy weight.
Can you prevent dementia?
Research shows that modifying your lifestyle can reduce the effect of cognitive decline in older adults.
The real risk of too much TV
It's official, research shows that increased time spent watching television is associated with increased deaths rates in older adults.
Can you exercise away the effects of sedentary behaviour?
Lack of physical activity and increased time spent going from car to computer to TV has been found to increase the risk of a number of chronic diseases and death, can we reverse these effects through exercise?