Sitting for 10 hours a day? Your brain might be at risk

Many of us sit for extended periods in today’s fast-paced world. Whether at work, during commutes, or while binge-watching our favorite shows, long hours of sitting have become a typical part of our daily lives. 

However, recent research suggests that excessive time in a chair can harm our brain health, potentially increasing the risk of conditions like dementia [1]. Here are ten ways in which sitting for prolonged periods can affect your brain [2]:

  • Elevated blood pressure: Sitting for prolonged periods can contribute to high blood pressure, damaging blood vessels in the brain and increasing the risk of strokes and cognitive impairment.
  • Higher stress levels: Sedentary behavior is linked to increased stress levels, which can release harmful stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels have been associated with brain shrinkage and impaired memory [3].
  • Impaired cognitive function: Sitting too long may negatively impact your cognitive function. Studies have shown prolonged sitting is associated with slower processing speed, poor memory and reduced executive function [4].
  • Increased risk of diabetes: Sedentary behavior is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes [5]. Diabetes, in turn, can adversely affect brain health, including an increased risk of cognitive decline.
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  • Increased risk of obesity: Prolonged sitting is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Obesity, in turn, is a known risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.
  • Lack of physical activity: When you spend most of your day sitting, you miss out on opportunities for physical activity. Regular exercise has been shown to have numerous cognitive benefits, including improved memory and attention [6].
  • Lowered brain connectivity: Prolonged sitting has been linked to decreased connectivity in the brain [7]. This reduced connectivity can hinder the brain’s ability to process information efficiently.
  • Negative impact on mood: Extended sitting can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety [8]. These mental health issues are closely tied to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor posture: Maintaining poor posture while sitting for long hours can strain your neck and back. This can result in discomfort and distract you from mental tasks, affecting your overall cognitive performance.
  • Reduced blood flow: Sitting for extended hours can lead to reduced blood circulation throughout your body, including your brain. This reduced blood flow can limit the delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen to brain cells [9].

In conclusion, sitting for long hours daily can profoundly impact your brain health. It can lead to reduced blood flow, increased stress, impaired cognitive function and a higher risk of dementia.

To mitigate these risks, it’s essential to incorporate regular breaks for physical activity, maintain good posture and adopt a more active lifestyle. Small changes in your daily routine can go a long way in safeguarding your brain health and overall wellbeing.

Get to know more about this study from JAMA Network.

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