Not only can sitting lead to diabetes and heart disease, leading a sedentary life is rough on the brain as well.
The act of being in a seated position is now being linked to changes in the region of the brain responsible for memory, according to researchers at the University of California Los Angeles.
In the study, published Thursday in the journal PLOS One, comprised of adults age 45 to 75, the participants each had a brain MRI and were asked questions about their levels of activity and the average number of hours they spent sitting in a week.
The researchers found that the patients who sat “too much” — anywhere from three to seven hours per day — had a noticeable thinning of the MTL (medial temporal lobe), where new memories are formed. They also saw the same results among patients who were physically active — meaning that the damage done by sitting for extended periods of time could not be offset by exercise.
A thinned MTL is typically a predecessor for dementia and marked cognitive declines in middle-aged to older people, the study said.
The next stage of the research will be to follow volunteers for longer than a week to see if the results are consistent and if gender, race or weight comes into play. The study said that limiting the number of hours spent sitting could become a recommendation from doctors for their patients at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.