Frightening study reveals what TV really does to your brain

It's kind of funny when you think about it. There's a direct connection between your feet and your brain -- and it's right in your butt.

Here's how it works: the more action your feet get, the less damage you suffer in the brain.

But if you're off your feet and on your butt too often, you can kiss your brain cells goodbye. And that's especially true if you're parked in front of the TV.

It's not just because of the mind-rot that passes for programming these days either. It's the sedentary lifestyle -- already firmly linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes -- that's now been confirmed to be a major contributor to cognitive decline as well.

And even when it doesn't lead to dementia, the combo of too much sitting and too much TV could still cause real damage to your thinking and memory.

Most frightening of all is that the research has revealed that this isn't a "someday" risk, as we see in so many studies. This is a risk you could be facing right now!

If you're like a lot of people, when you get home tonight you'll turn on the TV. If it's just for an hour or so, you've probably got nothing to worry about.

But if you turn it on during the news... keep it on for the game shows... and then watch some prime-time programs, you'll start to suffer -- because four hours of TV per day can lead to a measurable decrease in your scores on cognitive tests.

Being a couch potato alone will cause your scores to drop, according to the study presented recently at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

But if you've got both bad habits -- watching a lot of TV and spending too much time sitting even when the tube's turned off -- you could be in serious trouble. And if this sounds familiar there's no time to waste. You need to find a new hobby that gets you up and moving... because you're facing the biggest risk of all.

TV and inactivity combined will DOUBLE your risk of low scores on cognitive tests. And if you've been tied to the tube since young adulthood, you can actually start to suffer this cognitive damage by as early as middle age.

The longer you keep at it, the more brain cells you'll lose. If you've spent enough time on the sofa that there's an indentation shaped like your butt -- if you watch so much TV you know what's on without checking the channel guide -- it's time to change your habits before it's too late.

You don't need to run yourself ragged; in fact, it's better if you don't.

You just need to get up and get moving. It could be as simple as a long daily walk or as complex as signing up for the local adult hockey league -- as long as it gets you on your feet and moving, it's good for your body.

And as the new study shows, it's even better for your brain.