Scientists have come to the extraordinary conclusion that sitting is not just bad for your heart, it is bad for your brain too.
We have all heard the warnings in recent years about how sitting and a sedentary lifestyle lead to problems with the heart and the metabolism, but an alarming new study claims that sitting can also have negative impacts on the brain. Researchers found that people who are in middle age or older are more likely to have better memories if they are spending more time standing up or in motion.
In fact, scientists found that at every age, people who spend a lot of time sitting have less thickness in the medial temporal lobe of our brains, which is where our memories reside. While we lose some volume in this lobe as we age, sitting appears to accelerate and worsen this effect.
Scientists based hte findings on interviews and tests of 35 people with healthy brains between 45 and 75 years of age. Researchers at UCLA asked volunteers about thier physical activity, and then they scanned their brains with an MRI.
“Sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory, according to a preliminary study by UCLA researchers of middle-aged and older adults,” reads the abstract of the paper. “Studies show that too much sitting, like smoking, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. Researchers at UCLA wanted to see how sedentary behavior influences brain health, especially regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation.
“UCLA researchers recruited 35 people ages 45 to 75 and asked about their physical activity levels and the average number of hours per day they spent sitting over the previous week. Each person had a high-resolution MRI scan, which provides a detailed look at the medial temporal lobe, or MTL, a brain region involved in the formation of new memories.”