Sitting too much may affect your memory, research finds

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With the study suggesting that sitting and poor memory might be linked to each other due to the effect of sedentary behavior on the medial temporal lobe, the researchers believe that their findings serve as a dire warning to couch potatoes, as regular exercise didn't seem to "undo the damage" done by sitting.

Going forward, the researchers said they plan to survey people that sit for longer periods of time each day, in order to determine if sitting causes the observed thinning.

Brain thinning is commonly known to cause risk of conditions that affect many older adults, like dementia and cognitive decline.

Researchers at UCLA wanted to see how sedentary behavior influences brain health, especially regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation.

Previous studies have found that sedentary behavior is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and increased risk of early death in the elderly. UCLA biostatistician and study lead author Prabha Siddarth was also quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that "better ways to measure patterns of sedentary behavior" might be needed in upcoming studies.

For the new study, the researchers recruited 35 participants between the ages of 45 and 75. Research team asked study subjects about their normal sitting hours during a day. This was done using the self-reported International Physical Activity Questionnaire modified for older adults (IPAQ-E).

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". Each person had a high-resolution MRI scan, which provides a detailed look at the medial temporal lobe, a brain region involved in the formation of new memories. They would likewise want to check out the function gender, weight and race play in the result on brain health to sitting, inning accordance with the declaration.

After the brain scans, each was assessed on how long they spend on a chair all day, and the results showed that those who sat for longer ended up having thinner brain structures.

The study was supported by grants from various funders including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy and the McLoughlin Cognitive Health Gift Fund.

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