Sitting for Long Hours Found to Reduce Blood Flow to The Brain

Source: Liverpool John Moores University

Summary: Researchers have found evidence of reduced blood flow to the brain in people who sit for long periods of time.

Most people know that sitting for very long periods of time without getting up now and then is unhealthy. In addition to contributing to weight gain, sitting for a long time can cause back pain and leg problems and possibly other ailments. And now, evidence has been reported that it can reduce blood flow to the brain – something shown in the past to contribute to the likelihood of developing neurological disorders such as dementia. Decreased cerebrovascular blood flow and function are associated with lower cognitive functioning and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases. A team of researchers with Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K. has found evidence of reduced blood flow to the brain in people who sit for long periods of time. The study findings were published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Cerebrovascular blood flow

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Suspecting that sitting for a long time could cause circulation problems to the brain, the researchers enlisted the assistance of 15 adult volunteers each of them had a day job that required long hours of sitting. Each of the volunteers participated in three exercises over a period of time each came to the lab on three separate occasions and sat for four hours. On each visit, they were fitted with a headband that measured blood flow to the brain using ultrasound. Each subject also wore a face mask that captured and measured carbon dioxide levels. The researchers found evidence of reduced blood flow in all of the volunteers during all of the exercises. However, they also found that normal blood flow was restored by walking breaks. They report that the best outcome was when the volunteers took frequent two-minute walking breaks.

More Information: Sophie E. Carter et al, “Regular walking breaks prevent the decline in cerebral blood flow associated with prolonged sitting”, Journal of Applied Physiology (2018). DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00310.2018

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