Decreased activity rates increase dementia risk.

Decreased activity rates increase dementia risk.

The Link Between Inactivity and Dementia Risk: Move Your Way to a Stronger Mind


They say a healthy body equals a healthy mind, and now there is research to support the notion that the more inactive we are, the higher our risk for dementia. A study conducted among nearly 50,000 seniors in the UK has revealed a concerning link between sedentary lifestyles and the onset of dementia.

Lead author David Raichlen, a professor of biological sciences and anthropology at the University of Southern California, explained, “We looked into whether sitting too much can increase the risk of getting dementia. Turns out, if you’re sedentary for over 10 hours a day, there’s a higher risk.”

The study tracked the participants, who were at least 60 years old, for an average of seven years, monitoring their daily activities and lifestyle habits. The results were startling. Seniors who spent 10 hours a day inactive experienced an 8% higher risk of dementia, compared to those who spent only nine hours a day inactive. However, the risk increased dramatically with more inactivity. Seniors who sat for 12 hours a day saw their risk spike by 63%, while those sedentary for 15 hours a day had a staggering 320% increase in dementia risk.

It’s important to note that the study does not prove that inactivity causes dementia. Other factors may contribute to the increased risk, such as poor physical health or even the undiagnosed early stages of dementia itself. However, the link between inactivity and dementia risk cannot be ignored, and further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms.

So why does inactivity potentially increase the risk of dementia? One possibility is reduced blood flow to the brain. Another factor could be the association between inactivity and cardio-metabolic illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.

The participants in the study were residents of England, Scotland, and Wales, with an average age of 68. None of them showed signs of dementia when they enrolled, and their daily activities were monitored using wrist activity trackers. By the end of the study, over 400 participants had been diagnosed with dementia.

Interestingly, the study found no evidence linking the typical American sedentary behavior of 9.5 hours a day to an increased risk of dementia. However, once inactivity exceeded 10 hours, the risk became apparent. This suggests that even though regular physical activity is crucial for overall health, it’s the excessive amount of time spent inactive that poses a higher risk of dementia.

The question remains: Can reversing years of inactivity mitigate the risk of dementia? According to Raichlen, the dataset used in the study does not provide a definitive answer. However, he believes that it is never too late to sit less and move more.

Claire Sexton, senior director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, expressed little surprise at the findings. She mentioned that previous studies have also reported an association between sedentary time and dementia risk.

Sexton emphasized that regular physical activity should not be viewed in isolation but rather in combination with other lifestyle factors, including a healthy diet, education, head injury history, sleep patterns, mental health, and the overall health of the cardiovascular system.

In conclusion, this study adds to the growing body of evidence linking inactivity to a higher risk of dementia. While the exact mechanisms behind this association are not fully understood, it is clear that staying active is essential for maintaining not only physical health but also cognitive well-being. So let’s make it a point to move our bodies, as it could be a key factor in keeping our minds strong and dementia at bay.


One of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is __________________.

Answer: Memory loss


Sources: – David Raichlen, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences and Anthropology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles – Claire Sexton, DPhil, Senior Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach, Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago – Journal of the American Medical Association, September 12, 2023