Too much sitting may increase your dementia risk, study finds

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We all know that sitting too much can be bad for our hearts and waistlines. But did you know it could also affect your brain, especially as you get older?

Scientists have been digging into this issue, trying to figure out if spending a lot of time sitting down might have something to do with memory problems or even dementia as we age.

What the Study Found

Recently, researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Arizona released a study that should make us all think twice about how much we’re sitting.

The scientists did some detective work using a big collection of health data from the United Kingdom. They focused on people who were 60 years old and up, who didn’t have dementia when the study began.

To track how much these people were sitting, moving, or sleeping, the researchers gave them special wristbands to wear 24/7 for a week.

The wristbands, called accelerometers, could tell when a person was active and when they were just chilling out.

After collecting all this data and following up with the study participants for about six years, the researchers made a surprising discovery: People who were inactive for more than 10 hours a day had a higher risk of getting dementia.

Here’s the kicker: it didn’t matter if people took short breaks from sitting, like standing up every half-hour. What really counted was the total amount of time they were inactive.

If someone was sitting or doing nothing for over 10 hours daily, their risk for dementia went up. But if they managed to stay below that 10-hour mark, the risk didn’t increase.

Why This Matters to All of Us

This study is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First off, it adds to what we already know about staying active and keeping our brains healthy.

Most Americans are sitting for about 9.5 hours a day, which is really close to that 10-hour danger zone the study pointed out. This means that a lot of us need to start paying attention to how much we’re sitting, especially as we get older.

David Raichlen, one of the people who led the study, made a comforting point, though. If you have a desk job that requires you to sit a lot, you’re not doomed to get dementia.

The key is to keep your total sitting time under 10 hours a day. So, maybe consider taking a walk during lunch or doing some light exercise in the evening to cut down your sitting time.

It’s also worth mentioning that this study used wristbands to track activity, making it more reliable than earlier studies that relied on people’s memories to report how much they were sitting or moving.

Plus, the researchers took into account other things that could affect brain health, like age, whether or not you smoke, and what you eat.

The study isn’t the final word, though. The researchers want to look into whether being physically active might actually lower the risk of dementia, even for people who do sit a lot.

But for now, it’s a good idea to think about cutting down on those inactive hours, for the sake of our brains as well as our bodies.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about daytime napping strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and how to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and many older people have this non-Alzheimer’s dementia.

The research findings can be found in JAMA.

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