Prolonged Sitting Linked with High Risk of Premature Memory Loss

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Researchers reveal that sitting too much is linked to higher risk of memory loss, according to a preliminary study published on April 12, 2018.

Researchers at UCLA conducted a study on middle-aged and older adults and found that those who sit long hours a day are associated with changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory.

They found that similar to excess smoking, too much sitting, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and premature death. The team intended to observe how sedentary behavior influences brain health, especially those regions critical to memory formation.

The team conducted a study on 35 people aged 45 to 75 years. They enquired about the number of hours these people spent sitting daily as well as the level of physical activity there were involved in the previous week. These individuals further underwent high-resolution MRI scans, to obtain a detailed report of—medial temporal lobe, or MTL—the brain area involved in formation of new memories a brain region involved in the formation of new memories.

They discovered that sedentary behavior is a significant predictor of thinning of the MTL and that physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods.

The findings show that more hours spent sitting is associated with thinner regions of the brain, however, the study did not include asking people if they took breaks during this time.

The team further plans to widen the horizons of the study, by following up with the participants after a longer duration to determine if sitting causes thinning and the role that gender, race, and weight plays in relation to brain health and sitting.

Thinning of MTL is associated with cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults. Thus, the researchers hope that reducing sedentary behavior may have a possible effect on brain health, especially for those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

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