Gripes & Graplings

Monday, May 29, 2006

If You Watch TV You'll Lose Your Marbles!

I read something interesting t'other day. Interesting because it seems, for once, I'm doing something right. It's not often I discover that, but luck was with me on this particular occasion.

I was flicking through a magazine (Good Housekeeping, I believe) when I came across an article that caught my eye. Basically, it said that those who watch a lot of TV are more likely to suffer from Altzheimer's in old age than those who engage in intellectual activities. Three hours or more of TV a day was particularly bad.

The brain, of course, is a muscle, and like any other muscle, it needs to be exercised if it's to be kept in tip-top condition. For every hour we spend veging in front of the TV in a semi-conscious state, (a state where we're not actually learning anything, just being fed information - there's a difference), we're increasing our chances of Altzheimer's.

I'd imagine that those who work in mind-numbing jobs like call-centres where they do nothing but follow a script all day, or production lines in factories, must be practically guaranteed to be heading for Altzheimer's.

Anyway, I thought I'd have a mooch round the old Internet and see if I could find any additional information on this, and came up with some stuff that a Dr Friedland and his team of researchers at a couple of US universities have said. Evidently, of those studied, people with Altzheimer's were less likely to have had intellectual hobbies and were unlikely to have had such a wide range of interests as their healthy peers. They also all watched a lot of TV.

While watching TV is a passive activity, both physically and mentally, intellectual activities include reading, solving crosswords, doing jigsaw puzzles, knitting, and woodworking.

Physical activity also plays its role. Those who are less active are three times more likely to develop Altzheimer's than those who partake in activities such as gardening, sports, or playing a musical instrument.

The good news is that, as far as intellectual activities go, its never too late to get started.

Luckily, although I can't take much physical exercise anymore, I watch very little TV and have a crossword book in the loo to pass the time with when "finishing off" takes a little longer than usual. I read, I knit, I do jigsaws. I wonder whether surfing the Net falls into the intellectual category or not?

This is serious research so next time you sit there being served by Murdoch's miserable brain mushing tripe, give some thought to how your carers are going to feel when you can no longer remember where the toilet is let alone solve a crossword while you're in there!


Related Link: Findings presented on Alzheimer's disease, brain gymnastics, and lead

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Altzheimers's Disease

13 Comments:

  • I'm not sure Mike Baldwin had Sky. The only time I ever saw him watching telly was after he went teapot so maybe there's something in that, too.

    By Anonymous R, at 29/5/06 13:06  

  • When you start to think about this it's fairly obvious isn't it. Got to keep the old brain functioning - keep the neuro linguistic pathways open and so on.
    I've got another theory about this too - it's just one of my badly thought through off the cuff probably bollocks theories (as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm full of them). I think the way society is set up these days makes most of what we do completely irrelevant to survival,so we spend most of our time just doing pointless stuff and not really knowing why. We lack a paradigm.
    This is a tough way to live, so combine this with switching our brain off and surely madness is inevitably there waiting for us.
    Cheerful thoughts today eh.

    By Blogger tom909, at 29/5/06 14:40  

  • R. Having Sky isn't a prerequisite to watching TV, is it? We don't have Sky but I'm sure I could still manage more than 3 hours a day if I really wanted to. It's just so much easier if you do happen to have Sky. As for Baldwin, I'm sure he did his fair share of telly viewing although I'm surprised they haven't put a big screen in the Rover's.

    Tom. I'm full of shit theories too so you're in good company here. Seriously, I think you're probably on to something. Our lives have become pretty pointless. A lot of women I know either watch TV or wander around the shops buying stuff they don't really need. "Home-making" is an instinct that's relevant to survival, but how many sets of bed linen do we need to survive? And must we really change the decor every year just because trends dictate we should? Keeping ourselves warm is also an instinct relevant to survival but (and I'm very much a guilty part here), how many pairs of shoes does a woman need in order to keep her tootsies warm? I dunno.

    I'd much rather go fishing than shopping. Do you think that'll help stave off the old Altzheimer's?

    frtybwm - flatulence at an intellectual level

    By Anonymous Sharon J, at 29/5/06 14:56  

  • Sharon, just saw your comment on my BB post. Don't worry, I'll be fine. Interesting though, out of our little gang of bloggers so far not one has come forward to share my BB experience with me. I don't mind going it alone though, this is my seventh year and that includes all the celeb ones too! I just love watching people - especially under this kind of pressure - I find it totally fascinating.
    Seriously Sharon, I do think an active mind has got to be good, and surely it is good to do things that are at least in some direction nearer to our basic needs, like gardening, hunting (I mean for food here, not foxes and stags), making clothes and keeping a good roof over our heads and so on. I mean it might even go down as far as having a real fire instead of invisible heating systems etc etc
    Sorry to be so serious, I expect Vicus will be along shortly to lighten the mood.

    By Blogger tom909, at 29/5/06 15:57  

  • Bloody hell, Tom. You've watched them all? I'm never that dedicated to anything, let alone a TV programme. But I do understand why people watch it - as I said on your blog (or I think I said, at least), the first one was interesting as a kind of social experiment but then the big snots at Channel Four went and messed it all up by making a laughing stock of the contestants, which is something I definitely don't like. Still, each to their own. I read chicklit, you watch BB :-)

    As for being serious, I think serious is good. Sometimes. Everything has its place and too much larking about can become tedious after a while. (Jeez, I sound boring!)

    By Anonymous Sharon J, at 29/5/06 17:34  

  • You've watched them all but are still capable of a fair degree of rational thought? Are you being entirely honest with us?

    By Anonymous Richard, at 29/5/06 19:31  

  • Richard, I'm not saying I've caught every episode, but I don't ever lose the thread. I also do Big Brother's big mouth, and a bit of live streaming. I find it totally riveting.
    Don't forget 20 million people watched Dirty Den get shot - watching BB is pretty normal compared to that.

    By Blogger tom909, at 31/5/06 10:56  

  • I've come to the conclusion that I must be the abnormal one as I didn't watch Dirty Den get shot either. When was that? Back in the 80s? I was probably living abroad so maybe that's why. I did see him catch it with wotshername's doorstop though, although I hadn't actually planned to watch it.

    I stopped becoming too involved in any kind of TV programme when I became totally addicted to Dynasty back in the 80s. Yes, that's pretty lame too, isn't it? I could never accept an invitation out if it happened to be on a Wednesday and if anybody dared visit me, I'd have the hump for days because I'd had to turn the TV off (yes, even though it was something I wanted to see, my upbringing dictated that the TV goes off when guests are visiting, something few others seem to do). After that, I promised myself that I'd never ever allow any kind of programme get that kind of control over me. Sadly, I don't seem to be in a better position for it because I can feel the atmosphere when I visit people unexpectedly and I'd be quite wealthy if I had a pound for every time I've called a friend to ask whether it's ok to come over only to be told "not really, it's Big Brother/Most Haunted/Frost/fill-in-the-blank tonight".

    Sigh.

    By Anonymous Sharon J, at 31/5/06 11:17  

  • Sharon, I've told you before, you've got to toughen up. If people come round when you're watching your favourite program you can't just have a blanket rule about turning the telly off. You have to weigh up the value to be gained from both alternatives and go for the one that is worth most.
    If it's BB or the football then obviously the telly stays on - if it's the news it goes off.
    My missus was into Dynasty - it wasn't that bad, but by the sound of it you did let things get a little out of hand there.

    By Blogger tom909, at 31/5/06 16:32  

  • I was starting to feel a little smug 'til you got to the bit about physical exercise. I'm so releived you included gardening and playing a musical instrument in there. I'm pretty much up to full marks. Shame I'm as mad as a hatter to begin with and own more pairs of shoes than there are weeks in the year!

    Don't tell Tom, but I have watched most of the other BBs at some point or another and usually have an idea who most of the contestants are - I just hate all the hype that goes with them when they get out.

    By Blogger Cherrypie, at 31/5/06 23:25  

  • Now I'm depressed.

    By Blogger Mark Gamon, at 1/6/06 13:47  

  • Hi sharon - don't watch much tv, I think! But even when I do, I am doing something else. My brain is always on the go and i have to meditate in order to quiet it down.
    How about this: this year I have got involved with BB! never watched it before but got grabbed whilst channel flicking. Sad I know but there we are. Hope all is well with you. (No knitting?)

    By Blogger colin, at 3/6/06 09:10  

  • Toughen up, Tom? I sincerely hope you're not being serious? Good manners are fast disappearing as it is and I sure as hell am not going to let go of those I have left. There's absolutely nothing on the TV that could be more important than interacting with real live people. When others don't turn the TV off (or at least refrain from watching it), I go away feeling that I'm not important to them. The 'friend' who never allows visits when Most Haunted's on never gets a visit from me anymore because Most Haunted seems to be on most nights. If she wants to live that way, fair enough, but I'd rather have friends who appreciate my company more than that of the TV. And wicked mother that I am, I only ever allowed my children 1-hour of TV a day until they were 10. The result is that they have their favourite programmes but don't just sit around watching TV for the sake of it, and never let it get in the way of their social lives.

    Cherry. Your shoe collection sounds very much like mine. I added two new pairs yesterday. It could easily have been three but I showed an unusual amount of restraint :)

    Mark. Why? Are you worried about the state of your future mental health?

    Colin. Long time no hear. Good to see you around. No knitting. Well... just a bunch of Dulaan hats, that's all. Hardly worth blogging about. I'm not saying that people shouldn't watch BB or anything else - it's not as if I NEVER watch the telly - it's the excessive watching that's the problem.

    peblwee - what you do when you pee on the beach at Eastbourne.

    By Anonymous Sharon J, at 3/6/06 11:33  

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