When it comes to memory loss, there are many risk factors including head injury, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, older age, alcohol consumption, stroke, and other medical conditions. Prolonged sitting at middle-age has now been added to the list of factors that can increase the risk of memory loss.
It has been said that sitting is the new smoking in relation to general health. This notion was recently confirmed by researchers. Sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory, according to a preliminary study by UCLA researchers of middle-aged and older adults.
Researchers recruited people ages 45 to 75 and asked them about their physical activity levels and the average number of hours per day they spent sitting. Each person had a high-resolution MRI, which provided a detailed look at the medial temporal lobe, or MTL, a brain region involved in the formation of new memories.
The results revealed that sedentary behaviour is a significant predictor of thinning of the medial temporal lobe and its substructures and that physical activity, even at high levels, does not offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods.
MTL thinning can be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults. Reducing sedentary behavior may be a possible target for interventions designed to improve brain health in people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers said.
Researchers hope that these findings inspire healthy brain habits, at home and work, such as taking a 5-minute break to stand up and walk around every 30 to 60 minutes.
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