Researchers link sedentary behavior to thinning in brain region critical for memory

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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.

"Reducing sedentary behavior may be a possible target for interventions created to improve brain health in people at risk for Alzheimer's disease", the scientists said.

But this simplistic guideline doesn't quite cut it, said Keith Diaz, lead author of the new study and an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine.

Perhaps most shocking was that, according to the researchers, "physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods".

It may be time to ditch the desk chair: A new study links sitting too much each day with memory problems in middle-age and older adults, Live Science reports. They assessed their physical activity levels and the average number of hours they spent per day sitting throughout the week.

All the participants had a brain scan that specifically looked at the area of the brain called the medial temporal lobe. They used the scans to identify the relationships among the thickness of the MTL, physical activity and sitting behavior. Regardless of the level of physical activity, long-term sitting is closely related to the thinning of the media temporal lobe. Research team asked study subjects about their normal sitting hours during a day.

Reducing sedentary behaviour may be a possible target for interventions created to improve brain health in people at risk for Alzheimer's disease, said Siddarth. Thinning in this region precedes cognitive decline and dementia.

In addition, thefindings are initial, and although the studyfocused on hours invested sitting, it did not take into account whether individuals took breaks throughout long stretches of inactive habits.

Earlier studies have shown that prolonged periods of sedentary life, which means sitting too long at a stretch during the day, could be bad for the heart and health in general.

The next stage of the research will be to follow volunteers for longer than a week to see if the results are consistent and if gender, race or weight comes into play.