A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to high blood pressure, cognitive decline, obesity, and heart disease. Now, a new study found that it is also associated with risk for dementia among older adults.
The study, led by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Arizona, used machine learning to examine the relationship between sedentary behaviour and dementia. The findings showed that total time spent sedentary impacts brain ageing. The dementia risk significantly increased among adults aged 60 and above who spent over 10 hours a day engaging in sedentary behaviours such as sitting, the press statement by USC revealed.
For the study, the researchers used data from UK Biobank and included responses from over 50,000 participants. They used accelerometers, devices worn on the wrist that measure movement, for 24 hours a day for one week. Machine learning was used to analyse the accelerometer readings and classify behaviours based on different intensities of physical activity.
Published in JAMA, the findings showed that individual sedentary periods didn’t matter as much as total time spent sedentary every day. “We found that once you take into account the total time spent sedentary, the length of individual sedentary periods didn’t really matter,” said study author David Raichlen in the statement.
However, the researchers also found that sedentary behaviours under 10 hours were not linked to the increased risk. This could be good news for those whose daily work includes sitting for long hours as long as they limit their total time spent sedentary, the researchers said in the statement.
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a myriad of health risks in recent years. In July, a new study, led by Cambridge University researchers, found an increase in sedentary time, such as watching TV, reading, or using mobile phones, can lead to a lower quality of life among those aged 60 years or above. Moreover, a 2022 study led by University of Pittsburgh researchers showed that older adults who remain active during the day are happier and perform better on cognitive tests.