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Study Suggests Sitting for Long Periods of Time Can Have Damaging Effects on Your Brain

Study Suggests Sitting for Long Periods of Time Can Have Damaging Effects on Your Brain
(Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images, @Tsali/Twitter)

Find yourself perpetually at your computer, struggling to meet deadlines, multi-tasking with conference calls, and responding to emails hours on end? Being sedentary never hurt anyone, right? You couldn't be more wrong, at last according to researchers.

Are you sitting down for this? Assuming you've already been, here's the bad news. A new research from University of California, Los Angeles confirmed what many were fearful of: sitting down for long periods of time can actually be damaging to your overall health.

The good news is your cognitive health is literally worth taking a stand for.

The research published in Plos One studied 35 people between the ages of 45 and 65 who had their medial temporal lobes scanned. That location of the brain is crucial for declarative or long-term memory.

Participants who spent the most hours sitting had thinner brain structures indicating that prolonged sedentary habits were predisposed to a decline in rapid memory loss or dementia.

The atrophy and anti-neuroplastic processes occurring in cognitive decline are thought to occur in the medial temporal lobe (MTL).

Researchers wrote that physical activity was imperative for sustaining good health.

Several mechanisms have been postulated for how physical activity improves brain health, including increased blood flow in the brain to promote the development of new neurons and delaying brain structural and functional decline.

It's for your health!


The authors noted the correlation between the variables of MTL thickness, physical activity, and sitting.

A significant negative association was found between hours of sitting in a day and total MTL thickness. In contrast, physical activity, whether entered into the model as a continuous or as a categorical measure was not associated with thickness.

According to Live Science, "The researchers noted that the study didn't prove that sitting led to thinner brain structures, but instead found an association between sitting for long periods of time and thinning structures."

The limited data was a result of a small number of participants, but the researchers hope to conduct more studies to prevent the risks of Alzheimer's disease and dementia and also determine whether prolonged sitting contributed to the MTL thinning.

In this preliminary study of middle-aged and older adults, self-reported hours per day spent sitting, but not physical activity level was associated with less thickness in the MTL substructures.
These findings are novel and require further exploration in longitudinal studies and analysis of mediating mechanisms.
Better understanding the effects of sedentary behaviour on our brains is important given the global epidemic of physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles.

Well, Fred, there are easy steps in preventing muscle atrophy from being chained to your desk all day. Try adopting this life-saving method. Namaste.

You can stand to save your brain by getting out of your chair for five minutes every hour.

H/T - LiveScience, Indy100, Twitter, PLOSone