Sitting is bad for your brain -- not just your metabolism or heart

Too Much Sitting May Shrink the Part of Your Brain Tied to Memory

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Researchers found that extended sitting was linked with thinning of the medial temporal lobe, regardless of an individual's physical activity level.

Not only can sitting lead to diabetes and heart disease, leading a sedentary life is rough on the brain as well.

U.S. researchers have published preliminary studies that show that sitting down for too long can reduce the thickness of the medial temporal lobe, a brain structure that is very involved in memory.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that spending all day in your desk chair caused to change a thinning of the medial temporal lobe, a brain structure that is a key to learning and memory.

35 people ages 45 to 75 were recruited for the study.

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The researchers then invited the participants to spend between 3 and 15 hours a day in the sitting position. This was done using the self-reported International Physical Activity Questionnaire modified for older adults (IPAQ-E).

They answered questions about their physical activity levels and the average number of hours per day they spent sitting over the previous week. The authors conclude that further studies are needed to understand the relationships between physical inactivity, physical activity, brain transformations and Alzheimer's disease. Also, it does not prove that too much sitting causes thinner brain structures, but instead that more hours spent sitting has a connection with thinner brain regions. With the help of the MRI scans, the researchers could closely observe the medial temporal lobe (MTL), an area of the brain critical for memory formation. To puts it simply, the research study recommends that "inactive habits is a substantial predictor of thinning of the [median temporal lobe] which exercise, even at high levels, is inadequate to balance out the damaging impacts of sitting for extended durations", the scientists stated in the declaration.

Health experts have earlier suggested people with long hours of office job, should take breaks in between. They would also like to explore the role gender, weight and race play in the effect on brain health to sitting, according to the statement.

The study was supported by grants from various funders including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy and the McLoughlin Cognitive Health Gift Fund.

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