Want to Think Better? Get On Your Feet
A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles gives new meaning to the phrase “thinking on your feet”. The benefits of standing during the workday for your cardiovascular health and weight are well documented, but this study marks a remarkable foray in that it links sitting to inferior brain health as we age.
As we get older, part of our brains associated with memory (the medial temporal lobe, which houses the hippocampus) atrophies. What is new about these findings is that although researchers have looked at the association between physical activity and brain health, this focuses on the time one spends sitting versus standing, a seemingly more accessible and simple change to make for most people than a change in exercise. (Interestingly, the team at UCLA did not find a relationship between levels of physical activity and the thickness of the medial temporal lobe.)
There had been indications in previous studies that reducing sitting time might be more potent than getting in more time at the gym or your favorite fitness studio when it comes to improving certain health indicators. For example, one study drawing on data from fifty-four countries demonstrated an association between sitting less and reduced mortality, but not between mortality and exercise.
Ready to take a stand for your health?
Here are a few things to think about, especially when it comes to standing at the office, where many of us spend a large portion of our sedentary time:
Try standing every time you do a certain activity at work, such as talking on the phone.
Suggest your team go for a walking meeting.
Try a standing desk.
If you know there is somewhere you’ll be standing for a long period of time, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and you may want to get an anti-fatigue mat.
Your feet and legs may need time to adjust to standing for longer periods of time. If you find you’re tired of standing, try taking a break and sitting until your legs recover.