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Older Folks Watch More TV, Get Less Out of It
Date:7/1/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Too much Wheel of Fortune and CSI may not be good for seniors' mental state, new research suggests.

Researchers analyzed data on nearly 4,000 Americans ages 15 to 98 and found that adults over age 65 spent almost three times more of their waking hours watching TV than younger adults.

But while the younger folks considered vegging out in front of the TV relaxing and relatively pleasant compared to their other daily activities, older people found TV less enjoyable, according to the study. While watching TV, older people reported more feelings of sadness than younger people, and they found shows less relaxing as well.

Ironically, of all leisure and social activities the older adults engaged in, TV watching was the most common, according to the study. But unlike other leisure-time activities -- such as socializing or getting exercise -- it was linked to lower life satisfaction.

Researchers pointed out that other data suggests excess TV watching is also associated with poorer cardiovascular and bone health, a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, lower life satisfaction, less frequent engagement in social and physical recreation and increased risk for dementia.

Despite watching more TV, older people overall were more satisfied with their lives, happier and less stressed than younger people, the study found.

"We found older people spent more time in a positive mood and less time in a negative mood than younger people," said lead study author Colin A. Depp, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego's Stein Institute for Research on Aging. The exception seemed to be that older people "are watching a great deal more TV," he said, but unlike younger people, they were not enjoying it that much. The heavy TV watchers also reported more dissatisfaction with their lives.'/>"/>

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