standing desks and even cycling desk— in response to a growing body of research showing that a sedentary lifestyle creates many health risks. Regular physical activity appears to offer some protection from a variety of physical and mental problems, and many results indicate that this does not have to be Olympic-level training. Even walking a few times seems to help.
Now, a team of researchers turned to the opposite question: Are all forms of inactivity the same? Details will vary depending on the health issue involved, but there may be good news for anyone reading this that computer use appears to provide some protection against dementia.
get off the chair
Physical risks associated with inactivity are commonly associated with poor cardiovascular health, either directly or through obesity. Even a small amount of physical activity seems to counteract these effects, but more exercise generally seems to do better (details depend on the study and the exact risk being investigated).
But exercise also appears to improve mental health. It can be an effective treatment for depression and other disorders, and appears to help reverse some of the unfortunate effects of aging. and may reduce the risk of dementia,” the authors wrote, citing research done in other studies.
One of the quirks of some of the studies noted in the new study is that some of them used time spent watching television as a proxy for time spent inactive. It may have been a decade ago, but since then computers and mobile devices have given us new ways to feel like we’re doing something without us doing anything, and we’re becoming non-stop. We have greatly diversified our activities.
As such, the researchers decided to look into this in more detail and address several related questions. We also examined how physical activity affects the association between sedentary behavior and aging-related problems.
To do this, researchers turned to the UK Biobank. This is a large database that combines anonymized demographics and health results for hundreds of thousands of UK citizens. For this work, the team excluded those under the age of 60 and focused the work on about 75,000 people who filled in detailed information about their activity levels and leisure pursuits.
not good but better
Before we get into the results, a little reminder. This study focused on the effects of sedentary behavior on mental health problems. Physical health problems were not investigated. What looks relatively good in this analysis can turn out to be negative overall when physical issues are taken into account.
Out of the way, what did they see? Controlling for age and gender, time spent watching television was associated with an increased risk of dementia (a hazard ratio (That means they are 1.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with signs of dementia.) Physical activity slightly reduced risk. In contrast, computer use significantly lowered the risk, lowering the hazard ratio he to 0.8.
The same trend was seen when researchers divided the group into thirds and compared TV viewing and computer usage among high, medium, and low. Controlling for additional factors such as diet, alcohol use and obesity did not change the results.
Although the effects of physical activity were modest, the researchers tested whether it could offset some of the problems associated with watching more television and using less computers. It appears to have a protective effect, but it is minor.
Overall, the results suggest that we need to dissociate how we think about issues related to sedentary activity. is. But when it comes to mental matters, how you spend your inactivity matters. Some methods of becoming a sofa potato involve passive consumption, while others involve more mental activity.
In this sense, the results fit well with large-scale studies showing that staying mentally active can provide some protection against dementia. It seems to reduce the risk of dementia, and the effect seems to be enhanced even when reading is done at a relatively young age. So there is reason not to be surprised by this general result.
That said, there are still quite a few reasons to be careful. Among other potential problems, the researchers note that activity levels tended to be less accurate because they were checked and self-reported only at certain points in the participant’s history. , it is also important to realize that computer time includes a variety of activities. So there is still some work to be done here. But when someone yells at you for wasting your time reading Ars, you’re protecting your mental health.