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

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As a result, they found a strong association of sitting for extended periods of time with thinning of the medial temporal lobe.

Prolonged sitting is often associated with physical health problems like heart disease and metabolic disorders.

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. Thinning of this region is associated with memory decline or cognitive decline and dementia among the elderly. This means that the longer a person sits at a stretch, the worse the effects could be.

The researchers, including Prabha Siddarth from the University of California, Los Angeles in the USA, asked the participants about their physical activity levels and the average number of hours per day they spent sitting over the previous week.

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For the study, 35 adults (i.e. 25 women and 10 men) who were middle-aged or older were recruited.

The study, led by Prabha Siddarth of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, looked at a group of test subjects between the ages of 45 and 75 - asking them the average number of hours they spent sitting each day during the previous week. With every hour of sitting every day, there was an observed reduction in brain density, inning accordance with the research study.

Health experts have earlier suggested people with long hours of office job, should take breaks in between. 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.

The researchers then scanned the participants' brains using a high-resolution MRI scan.

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In the future, researchers are aiming to find out whether sitting actually causes brain thinning and what role gender, race and weight might play in brain health in relation to sitting.

The participants reported that they spent from 3 to 7 hours, on average, sitting per day.

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

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