Part of the Brain that Controls Memory May Shrink With Prolonged Sitting

April 15, 2018 | Author: | Posted in News Medical

Sitting really isn’t good for you and the more we find out about it, the worse it seems.With the recent standing desk trend, that’s pretty much common knowledge, but a new study suggests that sitting too much could even impact your memory — going well beyond many of the cardiovascular effects we suspected, and directly affecting important parts of the brain.

The new data were published in PLOS One, an open-access scientific journal earlier this week. researchers from the University of California Los Angeles, found that increased chunks of times with sedentary behavior caused a thinning of the medial temporal lobe — a region of the brain often implicated in the formation of new memories.

Brain thinning is well-known to be a precursor to conditions that affect many older adults, like dementia and cognitive decline.

To study the effects, researchers found 35 middle-aged and elderly folks, and then asked them to report their time spent performing physical activity and sitting throughout the week. Then the team scanned the participants’ brains using an advanced MRI to get detailed scans of the temporal lobes.

This study, like many of its companions, showed that length of time spent sitting at once is an important predictor in itself — regardless of general physical activity.

“Sedentary behavior is a significant predictor of thinning of the [medial temporal lobe] and that physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods,” the researchers said.

The study didn’t look at breaks in sedentary behavior, however. Which the researchers acknowledge could be a limitation of their results. Many modern fitness trackers, for instance, are built to encourage wearers to get up and move at least every hour. Some studies have suggested that this type of intermittent movement can offset the deleterious effects of prolonged sedentary periods, but obviously more data is needed.

The conclusions for this study are pretty striking, but it’s also worth noting that we’re pretty early in the medical research for this. The study was small and it only showed a strong correlation, not a causal link. At the same time, though, it’s falling pretty well inline with some of the other data that suggests being sedentary is super bad for your health.

So… uh… good luck out there. And maybe it’s time to get a standing desk?

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