Sitting really is not good for you and the more we find out about it, the worse it looks. With the recent permanent desktop trend, that's pretty well-known, but a new study suggests that sitting too much could even impact your memory – going far beyond many of the cardiovascular effects we suspected, and directly affecting important parts of the brain.
The new data was published in PLOS One an open access scientific journal earlier this week. . Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered that an increase in periods of sedentary behavior caused a thinning of the medial temporal lobe, a region of the brain that is often involved in the formation of new memories.
It is well known that thinning of the brain is a precursor of conditions that affect many older adults, such as dementia and cognitive impairment.
To study the effects, the researchers found 35 middle-aged and elderly people, and then asked them to report their time spent doing physical activity and sitting throughout the week. Then, the team scanned the brains of the participants using an advanced MRI to obtain detailed scans of the temporal lobes.
This study, like many of his peers, showed that the time spent sitting down at the same time is an important predictor in itself, regardless of general physical activity.
"Sedentary behavior is an important predictor of weight loss of [medial temporal lobe] and that physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to compensate for the harmful effects of the session for prolonged periods," the researchers said.
However, the study did not observe interruptions in sedentary behavior. What researchers recognize could be a limitation of their results. Many modern fitness trackers, for example, are designed to encourage users to get up and move at least every hour. Some studies have suggested that this type of intermittent movement can compensate for the harmful effects of prolonged sedentary periods, but obviously more data is needed.
The conclusions of this study are quite striking, but it is also worth noting that we are quite early in medical research for this. The study was small and only showed a strong correlation, not a causal link. At the same time, however, it is falling very well in line with some of the other data suggesting that being sedentary is super bad for your health.
So … uh … good luck out there. And maybe it's time to get a permanent desk?
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