Sitting Is Bad for Your Brain, Not Just Your Heart or Metabolism

If sitting makes up the better portion of your day, you might want to pay attention to a study reported by Neuroscience News. According to UCLA researchers, sitting too much can negatively affect the portion of your brain responsible for memory. Previous studies have already shown a link between too much sitting and heart disease, diabetes and premature death, just as much so as smoking.

If ever there were a compelling reason to stand up, sit less and move more, this is one. Worldwide, 47 million people are living with dementia. This is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030 and more than triple by 2050, according to the World Health Organization — a shameful number, considering that study after study is finding that those with the highest fitness levels have lower risks of dementia.

It’s firmly established that exercise improves mitochondrial biogenesis, which in turn protects your brain from metabolic and vascular risk factors associated with brain deterioration, including memory. Even among those at high risk of dementia, cognitive decline can be reduced with a comprehensive program addressing diet, exercise, brain training and managing metabolic and vascular risk factors.

What’s important to know is that you can get off your seat and on your feet quite easily, even if you work at a desk all day. If possible, ask your employer to consider giving you a standing desk, which gives you the option of standing or sitting while you work. If that’s not possible, then try to find a way to elevate your computer in such a way that you can still opt to stand, as swapping just two hours of sitting a day with two hours of standing or stepping leads to improvements in triglycerides, waist circumference, cholesterol levels and more.

Also, try walking while you're talking on the phone. At home, stand up while you watch television (or do a few jumping jacks or burpees during the commercials), park in the outskirts of the parking lot and take the stairs whenever you can. Finally, when you do sit, swap out your chair for an exercise ball, which requires you to engage your core muscles and helps improve balance and flexibility. If all else fails and you find yourself in a prolonged sitting situation — fidget! It appears to help offset the mortality risk that comes with excessive sitting.

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