Sitting has been called the “new smoking” meaning it is as detrimental to your health as smoking by increasing your risk for cardiovascular damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, and even early death.
Remember the old song called Dem Bones – you know it says the toe bone’s connected to the foot bone, the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone – and on and on. What if I told you the butt is connected to the brain? Sounds crazy right? Maybe not.
A new study shows how your brain is affected by periods of extended physical inactivity (aka spending too much time sitting on your butt). In this study, the scientists used ultrasound probes on the brains of 15 healthy adults as they worked through three seated four-hour sessions. In the first session, study participants sat for the entire four hour period without getting up. In the second session, they stopped after two hours to take a leisurely eight-minute walk on a treadmill before returning to their desks for another two hours. In the third session, participants stood up every 30 minutes to walk on the treadmill for two minutes.
Those who didn’t get up at all in the four hours saw blood flow to their brains decrease. Participants who got up once after 2 hours had increased blood flow while they were up and moving, but after they sat again and resumed working for two more hours, they ended up with even lower blood flow than when they’d begun. Those with the frequent walking breaks in between saw their brains have increased blood flow by the end of the session than when they started.
Our human brain needs a constant supply of blood to function properly because blood is loaded with oxygen and other nutrients. Even short-term dips in cerebral blood flow can slow your thinking and impair memory.
You don’t need a gym session. Even just moving your legs periodically (aka fidgeting) may help. Intentionally stand up from your desk regularly or get a standing desk. Do a few squats or lunges on your bathroom breaks and set a timer and just get up and stretch.
Does it surprise you that inactivity affects your brain?
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