If you can’t remember where you put your glasses – let alone your anniversary date - quick, turn off the TV! It might be making you forget things. According to Reuters news service, an online survey of 30-thousand people found that the amount of time they spent watching television had the biggest impact on their memory and recall.

Dr. Nancy Pachana is a psychologist from the University of Queensland in Australia. And she says other factors are important for keeping your memory sharp –like diet and an active lifestyle - because memory is dependent on both good physical and mental health. But your TV habits also figure into the equation.

A survey called The National Memory Test quizzed people on various tasks - like remembering a shopping list, recalling names and faces, and spotting the differences between two photographs. The participants also filled in a survey on their lifestyle habits - how much alcohol they drank, how much TV they watched, and how much they read. The results showed no differences between men and women, but the impact of TV viewing was HUGE. The people who watched less than an hour a day did better at every memory task. Here are some other results from the survey:

  • People who read fiction had better memories than those who didn’t.
  • People who drank less than two alcoholic drinks a day performed better at all memory tasks.
  • And doing crossword puzzles and eating fish at least once a week also improved memory.

But Dr. Pachana says TV isn’t ALL bad - some quiz shows and news programs can be good for the mind. But the main factor in keeping your memory sharp is having an active mind - and most TV is passive. That’s why reading or some other mentally stimulating pursuit is better. But don’t forget that other things factor in! Health issues like depression, lack of sleep, and being stressed can affect your memory. So make sure you take care of yourself.