In many ways, having a TV is like having another kid — you watch it, love it and yell at it on occasion. And much like your youngster, you can totally blame the boob tube for turning your brain into mush, says extensive research out of the University of California, San Francisco. This explains so much about Homer Simpson (and also, potentially, you).
The massive study looked at 3,247 people ages 18 to 30 for 25 years, monitoring their television habits every 5 years and exercise habits every 2 to 5 years. Participants who reported watching more than 3 hours of TV a day on average were considered to having a “high” amount of television viewing (and not always the weed kind). When combined with a lack of exercise, people who watched more and moved less were twice as likely to experience a cognitive decline in their 40s and 50s. Researchers suspect the lack of physical activity combined with the type of TV you watch is the culprit. Working out while watching the news is better for your brain than watching pro-wrestling laying on the couch, which hardly seems fair.
Massive though it was, the study has one potential limitation: Participants weren’t tested beforehand, so it’s possible that people predisposed to cognitive decline later in life simply like TV more. Rather than take taking that possibility as a comfort, though, it makes more sense to view the whole thing as a reminder that you don’t want your own kid developing a TV habit early on. After all, it’s obviously too late for you.