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Health news: Sitting for this many hours a day could increase the risk of dementia

It’s time to get up and get moving, because if you don’t, you’re at risk of a dementia diagnosis.

If you spend hours of your life chained to a desk or chilling out on the couch, you have a greater chance of developing dementia, scientists say.

American researchers studied 49,841 adults over the age of 60 from across the United Kingdom over a six-year period, 24 hours a day for one day each week – each hooked up to an ankle accelerometer, or monitoring device, to track their physical movement.

What the researchers found was that the participants who lived sedentary lifestyles – particularly for more than 10 hours a day – were more likely to be diagnosed with the degenerative disease later in life. Out of all the study’s participants, 414 had developed dementia at their six-year check-in.

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„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 Professor Gene Alexander, from the University of Arizona’s Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, and author of the study.

Anything less than the 10 hours was not associated with a dementia diagnosis, Alexander confirmed.

What we can also take away from the study is that sedentary activities don’t discriminate. Whether you spend the workday sitting at your desk, rotting away in bed, or sitting and fiddling with your phone for hours on end. You might even have a job that requires you to drive a vehicle for long periods. Whatever your poison – sedentary means all of the above. 

„We wanted to see if those types of patterns are associated with dementia risk,“ and they did.

„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,” David Raichlen, a USC professor of biological sciences and anthropology, and study author said.

For us office dwellers, the study is a big wake up call. Take that lunch break outdoors, stretch your legs, and get off your device. Every bit counts, even if it’s a stroll to the coffee shop for your afternoon caffeine hit, or a gossip session by the photocopier – just make sure you don’t pull up a chair.

„This should provide some reassurance to those of us with office jobs that involve prolonged periods of sitting, as long [as] we limit our total daily time spent sedentary,“ Raichlen added.

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