Recent research suggests that retirees frequently engaged in sedentary activities such as watching television, might want to consider substituting some of that screen time with more active pursuits. Extended periods of inactivity could lead to an increased risk of dementia diagnosis.
The study conducted by researchers from the University of California and the University of Arizona reveals that individuals aged 60 and older who spend over 10 hours a day being inactive are significantly more likely to develop dementia.
This is of particular concern given that the average American is suspected to spend around 9.5 hours a day involved in sedentary behavior.
Additionally, the study indicates that even when periodic breaks are taken from inactive habits, the risk of dementia remains high if the overall daily inactivity totals 10 hours or more.
David Raichlen, the study author and a professor of biological sciences and anthropology at USC, concluded that splitting up lengthy sedentary intervals by standing every half an hour, as often recommended, does not seem to reduce the risk of dementia. The total time spent inactive appears to be the critical factor.
The researchers scrutinized data from adults in the UK who had participated in previous studies, wearing devices to measure movement 24/7 for a week and were observed for an average of six years. The focus was on approximately 50,000 participants aged 60 or over who did not have dementia at the start of the preceding research.
Of the 50,000 subjects, 414 had been diagnosed with dementia by the end of the six-year observation period. After considering various other potential influences on brain health, the researchers concluded that prolonged sedentary behavior correlates with a heightened risk of dementia.
However, the research also highlights that people who maintain less than 10 hours of sedentary behavior each day do not seem to have an elevated dementia risk.
Raichlen emphasizes in his summary of the findings:
“For those whose work involves long periods of sitting, this should bring some relief, provided our total daily sedentary time is limited.”
The study’s findings were published in the esteemed journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA.