Sedentary behavior such as sitting for long time is linked to thinning in regions of the brain necessary for memory formation, according to a study conducted by UCLA researchers on April 12, 2018.
Although earlier studies have showed that sedentary behavior increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, and premature death, researchers at UCLA wanted to look upon the effects of sedentary behavior on brain health. In the study, 35 people between the ages of 45 and 75 were included and information regarding their physical activity levels and the amount of time they spent sitting were gathered. Each participant was taken through a high-resolution MRA scan to have a look at the medial temporal lobe, a brain region involved in the formation of new memories.
The results showed that sedentary behavior is a significant predictor of thinning of the MTL and that physical activity will be insufficient to avoid the harmful effects of sitting for longer periods. This study does not prove that too much sitting leads to thinner brain structures, however, it shows that more hours spent sitting are associated with thinner regions. Although researchers focused on the hours spent sitting, the amount of break they took in between was not considered in the study.
Furthermore, researchers are planning to follow a group of people for a longer duration to determine if sitting causes the thinning of brain. Also, factors such as gender, race, and weight will be considered while carrying out the study. MTL thinning can be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults. Researchers said, “Reducing sedentary behavior may be a possible target for interventions designed to improve brain health in people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”