How does sedentary lifestyle affect our brain?

In addition to avoiding the physiological effects of a sedentary lifestyle, moving and exercising more brings numerous benefits to our brain and mental health

The way of life of human beings has changed drastically over the millennia. Originally a nomadic species , then hunter-gatherers , most humans today are fixed in one place for life and we have all heard at some point that we should spend less time on the sofa or chair because sedentary lifestyle is not good for our health , both physical and mental . We know that spending long periods of time in the same position without exercising can lead to muscle atrophy and thrombus formation . But, why is it so bad for our brain ?

People who lead sedentary lifestyles are more likely to develop a number of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer . However, we are not given much information as to why this happens . However, thanks to researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine and other institutions who took an interest in the subject, we now have a clearer answer.

The study

Researchers in a laboratory

Researchers in a laboratory PHOTO: Dreamstime 

In an article published in 2014 in the scientific journal “ Journal of Comparative Neurology ”, the researchers described what was happening in the brains of rats when they spent their time actively or inactively . For this study, the researchers focused on a part of the brain called the rostral ventrolateral medulla , which controls our sympathetic nervous system . In simple terms, the researchers studied a part of the brain that affects blood vessel activity and blood pressure , an area linked to some types of heart disease .. Which, as the images of human brains suggest, we also have and it works in a similar way.

For the study, two groups of rats were formed: a group with exercise wheels in the cage and another group without exercise wheels. Rats love to run, so naturally those with exercise wheels used them heavily for the next three months. However, the other rats did not have that option, so they remained immobile most of the time . After the three-month study period was up, the researchers looked at the neurons in the ventrolateral medulla and found that the brains of the active rats looked virtually the same.that before the study, their neurons were working fine and nothing had changed. However, in the case of the inactive rats, their neurons had sprouted a bunch of extra branches , which are like tentacles that help the neurons communicate with each other. This may sound like a good thing, but it really isn’t, as unnecessary neural branching in this part of the brain creates an overactive sympathetic nervous system , which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease-related problems .

Sedentary lifestyle and mental illness

Woman at the psychologist

Woman at the psychologist

After studying the lifestyles of nearly 9,000 women , researchers found that people who led inactive lifestyles ( sitting more than seven hours a day ) were three times more likely to develop symptoms of depression compared to those who followed inactive lifestyles . physical activity guidelines and spent an average of four hours or less sitting daily.

Additionally, long hours of daily sitting is associated with thinning of the medial temporal lobe . The medial temporal lobe, which contains the hippocampus , is essential for the consolidation process of short-term memory . This region also affects our spatial memory , a crucial component of map reading and viewing.

However, in addition to avoiding the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, moving and exercising more brings numerous benefits to our brain and mental health. According to the results of 11 different studies , exercising regularly reduces the risk of dementia by almost 30% and Alzheimer’s disease by 45% .

Previous articleBermuda Triangle, found 94 years after the Cotopaxi: the strange story of the ghost wreck and the vessel …
Next articleThe Vikings: Origin and History of the Warriors of the Sea