The time older adults spend watching TV can affect their future independence, a recent study found.

For the study, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia examined data from a 12-year study of more than 1,900 adults who were aged 47 to 85 years at the beginning of the study. The adults were categorized by the amount of time they said they spent watching TV, from less than five hours to more than 30 hours.

Participants who spent less time watching TV over the time period had significantly stronger lower-body muscles and performed better at a knee extensor strength test, the researchers found.

The investigators concluded from their results that the amount of time spent watching TV needs to be addressed earlier in life because it could have an effect on the level of independence older adults have later. They also recommended that future studies be conducted to draw conclusions about the association between sitting time and physical function.

Results were published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.