Take this as your sign to stretch your legs.
Working a desk job, lounging in front of the TV or driving long days could increase your dementia risk, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona found that people who sit down 10 hours or more per day could be at a higher risk of developing dementia.
According to one nationwide survey from 2019, American adults spend 9.5 hours sedentary.
“Many of us are familiar with the common advice to break up long periods of sitting by getting up every 30 minutes or so to stand or walk around,” study author David Raichlen, a USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences professor of biological sciences and anthropology, said in a statement.
“We wanted to see if those types of patterns are associated with dementia risk.”
Published Tuesday in JAMA, the study analyzed data from a UK Biobank sub-study to follow 49, 841 adults located in England, Scotland and Wales who were over the age of 60 and had not received a dementia diagnosis.
The participants were required to wear an activity monitoring device, called an accelerometer, around their ankles to track their movement, or in this case, lack thereof.
Data from the accelerometer and advanced computing methods were used to determine the types of sedentary activities the volunteers participated in.
After an average of six years of follow-up, the researchers investigated the participants’ health records to determine whether they had developed dementia, discovering 414 cases.
“We were surprised to find that the risk of dementia begins to rapidly increase after 10 hours spent sedentary each day, regardless of how the sedentary time was accumulated,” said study author Gene Alexander, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Arizona’s Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
The “total time spent sedentary,” researchers suggested, had the biggest impact on health, while lower levels of less than 10 hours, Alexander added, “were not associated with increased risk.”
“This should provide some reassurance to those of us with office jobs that involve prolonged periods of sitting, as long we limit our total daily time spent sedentary,” noted Raichlen.
While more research is needed to determine whether physical activity can reduce the risk of dementia — which affects an estimated 5.8 million American adults — sitting too much has been linked to an array of other health complications.
A 2019 report claimed that Americans spend nearly one-third of their lives sitting down, and, in a post-pandemic era where work-from-home has endured, remote workers are struggling with achy necks and backs as a result.
Sedentary lifestyles could also contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death, regardless of regular physical activity, according to a 2022 study.
Experts recommend taking breaks by standing up and walking around every 30 to 60 minutes as well as maintaining good posture and using an ergonomic chair to mitigate the harmful health effects of sitting.
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