The Link Between Sitting and Dementia Risk


Research shows that sitting in front of the TV for more than 10 hours a day or being inactive, even occasionally, increases the risk of developing dementia.

Study Findings

Researchers have found that the likelihood of developing this disease increases significantly among adults who spend most of their day sitting.

The researchers said it doesn’t matter whether a person spends time sitting for long periods of time or sitting intermittently throughout the day, as both have the same effect on the risk of developing dementia.

The team from the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona analyzed data from more than 50,000 British adults aged 60 and over from the UK Biobank.

Participants wore the devices on their wrists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These devices track activity levels and can differentiate between sitting and sleeping.

Although watching television or driving are common sedentary behaviors, other behaviors may include playing video games, using a computer, sitting while traveling by car, bus or train, or sitting at a desk at work, but not sleeping.

The participants were followed for about six years, and using artificial intelligence known as machine learning algorithms, the researchers classified different types of movements, including between sleeping and sitting.

During the study period, 414 people were diagnosed with dementia.

Impact of Sitting Time

The analysis found that sitting for 10 or more hours a day was associated with an increased risk of developing the disease.

Compared to those who spent about nine hours a day sitting, those who spent 10 hours were 8% more likely to develop dementia.

Meanwhile, those who spent 12 hours a day sitting were 63% more likely to develop the disease, and those who spent 15 hours a day sitting were three times more likely to develop the disease.

Expert Opinions

“We were surprised to find that the risk of developing dementia began to increase after 10 hours of sitting each day, regardless of how much time was accumulated,” said study lead author Professor Jane Alexander, Professor of Clinical, Cognitive and Neural Systems and Laboratory Director. Imaging of the Brain, Behavior and Aging at the University of Arizona: “Sitting. This suggests that it was total time spent sitting that mediated the association between sedentary behavior and risk of dementia. It is important to note that low levels of sedentary behavior, up to about 10 hours were not associated with an increased risk.”

A study published in the journal Jama Network Open found that the way sedentary behavior accumulates throughout the day, whether it be long periods of sitting followed by activity or periods of sitting interspersed with standing, has a similar link: leading to dementia.

Professor David Raichlen, Professor of Biological Sciences and Anthropology in the UCLA College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, who was also involved in the study, added: “Many of us are familiar with the general advice to space out long periods of sitting, namely standing up or walking around every 30 minutes. We found that when total time spent sitting is taken into account, the length of individual periods of sitting does not matter much.

Professor Raichlen said: More research is needed to fully answer the question of whether physical activity can reduce the risk of sitting for 10 hours or more.


Source: Independent

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Angela Lee was born in Korea and raised in Alabama. She graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Journalism.

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