Sitting too much may affect your memory, research finds

Sitting too much may affect your memory, research finds

United States researchers have published preliminary studies that show that sitting down for too long can reduce the thickness of the medial temporal lobe, a brain structure that is very involved in memory.

"Reducing sedentary behavior may be a possible target for interventions created to improve brain health in people at risk for Alzheimer's disease", the scientists said.

Previous studies have found that sedentary behavior is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and increased risk of early death in the elderly. This region is responsible for formation of new memories. Researchers found that extended sitting was linked with thinning of the medial temporal lobe, regardless of an individual's physical activity level.

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

But this simplistic guideline doesn't quite cut it, said Keith Diaz, lead author of the new study and an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine. They also completed a questionnaire about their physical activity patterns and the number of hours spent in a sitting position.

Dr. Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, added,"healthy diet, drinking in moderation and not smoking were all things that can help maintain a healthy brain as we age". Then the team scanned the participants' brains using an advanced MRI to get detailed scans of the temporal lobes.

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They used scans to determine the relationship between MTL thickness, physical activity, and sitting behavior.

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

Although the researchers did not directly associate long hours of sitting with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, they believe that reduction of sedentary behavior should be recommended as an intervention tool for people who are considered at risk of developing Alzheimer's, according to Live Science.

In addition, thefindings are initial, and although the studyfocused on hours invested sitting, it did not take into account whether individuals took breaks throughout long stretches of inactive habits.

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