“I Move, Therefore I Think” Why Sitting Reduces Brain Power (& How Movement Could Be The Cure)
Is Sitting the New smoking?
These days, it’s common to hear sitting referred to as “the new smoking,”but did you know that sitting still for long periods can also reduce your brain power? In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers at the Institute of Sport, Exercise, and Health in the United Kingdom found that skipping out on exercise in favor of less demanding activities – such as 🪑sitting or 🛌lying down – was linked to a slight decline in memory and thinking abilities. The researchers found that “the differences, though small, show how even minor changes in physical activity levels can affect a person’s health, including brain health.” This makes sense, when you think of it in terms of the law of inertia, “…an object at rest tends to stay at rest…” This goes for your brain as well. If your body is in a seated or lying down position, your body is telling your brain it’s time to relax; to reset through sleep, or perhaps rest after exertion.
Physical Activity and Brain Benefits
Raise your hand 👋if you’ve heard that engaging in 2.5 hours of physical activity per week is a good guideline for us. (Great!… we’re seeing lots of hands 😀) Those guidelines were published by the Department of Health and Human Services, and one of the most interesting insights to come out of that research was that those who follow these guidelines actually boast brain benefits like improved memory and neuroplasticity (i.e. faster connections in the brain).
So how exactly does exercise strengthen cognition?
According to scientificamerican.com, a primary way that exercise benefits the brain is by increasing blood flow and oxygenation. This increased blood flow helps to nourish brain cells—like a natural fertilizer—promoting growth and survival. Meanwhile, sitting for extended periods of time can reduce blood flow, leading to decreased oxygenation of brain cells. And believe it or not, this is what can lead to a decline in cognitive function, including reduced attention and memory. A similar study showed physical activity is strongly linked to brain function through the reduction in stress.
Finally, author, physician and specialist in Internal Medicine, as well as the founder of Walkolution, Eric Soehngen M.D., Ph.D writes, “Research has found that, while lifelong learning boosts neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, nothing enhances these processes like living an active lifestyle with lots of movement throughout the day. Put simply, just as exercise is key to muscle growth, it is also vital for helping the brain grow stronger, more resilient, and more flexible.”
In Soehngen’s piece on Walkolution.com, there’s a somewhat hidden gem that makes all of this easy to remember (speaking of movement and memory):
Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.” However, when it comes to matters of the mind, the more apt statement might well be, “I move, therefore I think.”
Join the Better Health Movement
So, the next time you find yourself on the couch scrolling through your feed, or at your desk paying bills, try to remember to stand up, stretch, maybe walk in place for a few minutes — and get inspired in the direction of movement by joining the Youngevity Better Health Movement. The success stories on the website and the community that’s built through the Facebook Group could be your first step 😉 towards a new lifestyle that keeps your heart healthy and your brain nourished.