Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Do you spend a lot of time sitting?
Sports and Health and Exercise Science researchers tell us:
"Prolonged uninterrupted sitting in healthy desk workers reduces cerebral blood flow." *
What does this mean?
Well, 'Prolonged uninterupted sitting' just means 'not getting up off your backside for a long while.
So what? We all know sitting around doesn't do much for our fitness levels.
But 'cerebral blood flow'? This is the blood flowing to our BRAINS!
Hang on a minute, THAT'S GOT TO BE important!
It is. Look at this:
"Decreased cerebrovascular blood flow and function are associated with lower cognitive functioning and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases."
'Cognitive functioning' means our many different mental abilities: that's thinking, learning, remembering, reasoning, maintaining focus and attention, decision making etc.
A 'Neurodegenerative disease' is any disease that primarily affects the neurons ('building blocks') of the nervous system (e.g. brain and spinal cord).
Common, and well-known, neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But there are many others too.
The study quoted notes that whilst the cerebrovascular (i.e. the brain and its blood vessels) blood flow and function IS reduced by sitting for long periods....
....The GOOD NEWS is that taking regular short 'walking breaks' helps to lessen these problems.
Three different test groups of people were used in the study:
Group 1 stayed sitting
Group 2 walked at light-intensity (i.e. gently...not briskly) for 2 mins every half hour
Group 3 walked at light intensity for 8 mins every 2 hours
With regards to healthy blood flow and function rates to the brain, Group 2 came out TOP. In fact for some of the tests they did, taking the longer, 8 min, walk every 2 hours showed no significant change from the uninterrupted sitting group 1!
So, is it still good to get our for a daily walk? Or enjoy a longer walk at the weekend? Of course. There are many benefits.
Is it still good to go to our exercise/movement classes? Yes, absolutely, because the overall motivation, social engagement and habit forming benefits - as well as those gained from the movement you are doing! - that attending a group activity can give you - as long as you choose ones you enjoy - help you to keep 'being active' as a regular part of your lives.
Just be sure to choose a class, or classes, that are at the right level for your level of fitness, mobility and health. (If mainstream fitness, yoga and Pilates classes are too much for your body and you can't find a class to suit you, feel free to get in touch with us. At MOVEDtoMOVE we provide a range of gentle and enjoyable classes for people who are older, slower or less mobile.)
What about going to the gym (when lockdowns allow)? If it's something you enjoy and you make sure to work at a sensible, suitable level, then this is as good as any other activities you like to do (etc. cycling, swimming, gardening, playing golf etc.).
BUT, none of those things are going to serve us so well if the rest of the time we're just sitting* in front of our desks or computers. (Or anywhere else probably.)
* interesting to know whether the same results are replicated if we stand (which is something we do) at our desks instead of sitting. We suspect it's probably a little better standing as we're more inclined to move about a little on our feet as we work. However we also suspect uninterrupted standing may not be much better than uninterrupted sitting. We'll write a new blog and let you know if we find any evidenced based studies on this. Or in the meantime if you have any comments on this, please comment below.
Gotta go now. The little timer on my desktop is letting me know my 30 mins is up! It's time to walk around for 2 minutes.
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