Scientists from USC and the University of Arizona found that people aged 60 and older who sit for long periods watching TV or other such passive, sedentary behaviors may be at increased risk of developing dementia.
They showed that the risk is lower for those who are active while sitting, such as when they read or use computers.
The study also revealed that the link between sedentary behavior and dementia risk persisted even among participants who were physically active.
In the study, the team used self-reported data from the U.K. Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database of more than 500,000 participants across the United Kingdom.
More than 145,000 participants aged 60 and older, none of whom had a diagnosis of dementia at the start of the project.
After an average of nearly 12 years of follow-up, the researchers found 3,507 positive cases.
They found even in individuals who are highly physically active, time spent watching TV was linked to an increased risk of dementia, and leisure time spent using a computer was linked to a reduced risk of developing dementia.
These findings suggest that the brain impacts of sitting during leisure activities are really separate from how physically active they are.
Being more mentally active, like when using computers, maybe a key way to help counter the increased risk of dementia related to more passive sedentary behaviors, like watching TV.
Knowing how sedentary activities impact human health could lead to some improvements.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about risk factors that may have the biggest impact on dementia, and high blood pressure may lower dementia risk for some old adults.
For more information about dementia, please see recent studies that cataract removal may reduce the dementia risk by 30%, and results showing this metal may reduce the risk of dementia.
The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by David Raichlen et al.
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