Do you watch TV a lot? Doing ‘passive’ activities increases dementia risk – Study

Everyone knows that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health. According to the World Health Organization, the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles, and the risk of anxiety and depression also increases. But a new study suggests that certain sedentary activities may increase the risk of dementia.

Research published in the journal PNAS shows that doing passive activities that use less of the brain – such as watching TV – increases the risk of dementia from any cause.

This is in contrast to people who are also sedentary but activate their brains using computers. People who do a lot of these activities are less likely to develop dementia.

Dr Mats Hallgreen, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden told Medical News Today: “In the context of dementia, [the study] showed a distinct association between the two types of SB [sedentary behaviour] can be classified as mentally inactive, watching TV and mentally active, using a computer. “

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Dementia is a term for people whose memory, thinking and decision-making abilities are limited, so they have difficulty on a daily basis.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, although dementia can also occur after traumatic brain injury and stroke (vascular dementia).

Researchers in the study looked at the health records of 146,651 participants in the UK Biobank database to identify patterns among people developing dementia.

The researchers followed participants over the age of 60 – with an average age of 64 and a half, and who did not develop dementia when their data was entered into the biobank.


Individuals’ TV use was measured over an average of 11.87 years. At the end of this period, about 3,500 people developed dementia.

The study concluded: “High levels of cognitively passive SB [sedentary behaviour] (TV) is associated with an increased risk of dementia, while high levels of positive systolic blood pressure [sedentary behaviour] (computer) is associated with a reduced risk of dementia.

“These relationships remained strong regardless of PA level.”

The study did not provide a causal link between dementia and performing inactive, sedentary activities.

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The Alzheimer’s Association explains: “People [with dementia] may be more anxious, fearful or sad, and therefore at risk for depression.

“People also often become more irritable – perhaps out of frustration at lost abilities – or easily upset.

“A person can often be more withdrawn, lack confidence, and lose interest in hobbies or people.”

Symptoms are usually mild in the early stages of the disease but will become more noticeable as the condition progresses.

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