What older adults do while sitting affects dementia risk – ScienceDaily

According to a new study by USC and University of Arizona researchers, adults age 60 and older who sit for long periods of time watching television or other passive, sedentary behaviors may be at increased risk of developing dementia.

Their study also showed that the risk is lower for those who are active while sitting, such as when reading or using computers.

The study was published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It also revealed that the link between sedentary behavior and dementia risk persisted even among participants who were physically active.

“It is not time spent sitting, per se, but the type of sedentary activity performed during leisure time that affects the risk of dementia,” said study author David Raichlen, professor of biological sciences and anthropology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts. and Sciences

“We know from previous studies that watching TV involves low levels of muscle activity and energy use compared to using a computer or reading,” he said. “And while research has shown that sitting for long periods of time is linked to reduced blood flow to the brain, the relatively greater intellectual stimulation that occurs during computer use may counteract the negative effects to sit.”

The researchers used self-reported data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database of more than 500,000 participants across the UK, to investigate possible correlations between sedentary leisure activity and dementia in older adults.

More than 145,000 participants aged 60 and over, all of whom did not have a diagnosis of dementia at the start of the project, used touchscreen questionnaires to report on their levels of sedentary behavior during the 2006 baseline examination period -2010. .

After an average of almost 12 years of follow-up, the researchers used inpatient records to determine the diagnosis of dementia. They found 3,507 positive cases.

The team then adjusted for certain demographics (eg, age, sex, race/ethnicity, type of occupation) and lifestyle characteristics (eg, exercise, smoking, and alcohol use alcohol, time spent sleeping and engaging in social contacts) that could affect brain health.

The impact of physical activity, mental activity on risk

The results remained the same even after the scientists took physical activity levels into account. Even in very physically active people, time spent watching television was associated with an increased risk of dementia, and leisure time spent using a computer was associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia.

“Although we know that physical activity is good for our brain health, many of us think that if we are more physically active during the day, we can counteract the negative effects of time spent sitting,” said the study author Gene Alexander, Professor of Psychology and Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Arizona.

“Our findings suggest that the brain impacts of sitting during our leisure activities are actually separate from how physically active we are,” said Alexander, “and that being more mentally active, such as when we use computers, may be a key way to help counteract the increased risk of dementia associated with more passive sedentary behaviours, such as watching TV.”

Knowing how sedentary activities affect human health could lead to some improvements.

“What we do while sitting matters,” added Raichlen. “This knowledge is critical in designing public health interventions aimed at reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases from sedentary activities through positive behavior change.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (P30AG072980, P30AG019610, R56AG067200, R01AG049464, R01AG72445), the Arizona State Department of Health Services, and the Arizona McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

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