Past studies have shown a stark relationship between sitting and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. Another study is sounding the alarm on the brain health front as well.
For this report, UCLA scientists recruited 35 adults ages 45 to 75 and had them detail their physical activity levels, as well as how many hours a day they sat in the previous week. Each study subject also had specialized brain scans zeroing in on a region of the brain, the MTL, critical for memory function. Study subjects who reported the most sitting were significantly more likely to have to thin in their MTL brain regions.
What’s more—this was the case, despite physical activity levels. Meaning, physical activity, even at high levels, may not be enough to fully mitigate the adverse effects of prolonged sitting on brain structure.
My hunch is that as research continues, we will learn that our brains are the most susceptible to the damage that commences when our bodies are not regularly moving. Why? We already know that sitting diminishes blood flow in addition to boosting inflammation. Both are uniquely bad for the brain. A good rule of thumb is to strive to move, even if it’s just standing up for a minute or two of light activity, every 20 minutes.
(University of California – Los Angeles. “Sitting is bad for your brain – not just your metabolism or heart: Thinning in brain regions important for memory linked to sedentary habits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180412141014.htm>.)