For this report, UCLA scientists recruited 35 adults ages 45 to 75 and had them detail their physical activity levels, as well as how many hours a day they sat in the previous week. Each study subject also had specialized brain scans zeroing in on a region of the brain, the MTL, critical for memory function. Study subjects who reported the most sitting were significantly more likely to have thinning in their MTL brain regions.
What's more - this was the case, despite physical activity levels. Meaning, physical activity, even at high levels, may not be enough to fully mitigate the adverse effects of prolonged sitting on brain structure.
My hunch is that as research continues, we will learn that our brains are the most susceptible to the damage that commences when are bodies are not regularly moving. Why? We already know that sitting diminishes blood flow in addition to boosting inflammation. Both are uniquely bad for the brain. To give you proper perspective on the current evidence, regardless of your weight or health status, if you sit for 7 or more hours a day it increases your risk of chronic diseases on par with being a regular smoker or being obese. Currently over 50% of our population sits more than 7 hours a day!
Bottom line: To maintain good health you must engage in regular physical activity (just think movement) and avoid prolonged sitting.
A good rule of thumb is to strive to move, even if it's just standing up for a minute or two of light activity, every 20 minutes.
Ideas for incorporating movement into your day:
~ Consider transitioning to a stand-up desk
~ Take a brisk walk around your office or building when possible
~ Set a reminder on your phone to stand up every hour and stretch
~ Take the stairs whenever possible
~ Make a commitment to MOVE with coworkers and friends
Mutual accountability increases your likelihood of making it a reality!