Study Shows Sedentary Behavior is Associated with Brain Shrinkage and Dementia
Did you know a 2018 study published in the PLOS ONE journal by Siddart P. et al shows that sedentary behavior, especially sitting, is strongly associated with shrinking of the brain and cognitive decline?
That’s right. Movement, or a lack of it, has a direct effect on the function of your brain. For the brain to be healthy it needs primarily three things: nerve flow (called proprioception), blood flow and nutrients. Nerve flow from the movement of joints (especially the spine) comes first. It activates the areas of the brain to receive blood flow and nutrients. When nerve flow, blood flow and nutrients all reach tissues in sufficient amounts repair, growth and better health results.
Movement activates the cerebellum and hippocampus which are responsible for coordinating movement, thinking and emotions. If you are sedentary, sit too much and don’t exercise, these areas of the brain don’t get enough nerve stimulation so blood flow and nutrients to the areas are not stimulated in sufficient amounts. Cognition declines, emotions decline and the brain structure declines. The brain will literally shrink.
The study states that a “25% reduction in sedentary behavior could potentially prevent more than 1 million Alzheimer’s Disease cases globally.”
Movement is not just required for healthy adult brains. The same is true for children. Movement in the form of physical activity is being reduced and removed from educational curriculums. What is it being replaced with? Typically more book learning, while sedentarily seated at a desk. If we want healthier children with healthier emotions, healthier thinking and better learning abilities we must create systems that utilize this evidence. Children will learn more as they move more. Let’s add more physical activity into our schools not take it away. Parents, if your schools are taking it away you now have a greater responsibility to your children to add it in before and after school. Healthy bodies make healthy minds.
Move more, sit less. Add movement wherever you can. Go for a walk instead of watching another TV show. Ride a bike instead of driving the car. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Remember, exercise is free. It costs nothing to go for a walk or a jog. Try do get up to 30 minutes of it daily. Add some stretching and some spinal range of motion exercises also.
Bottom line, if you want a healthy mind you must create a healthy body. Keep moving.