The weird effect these positions have on your brain

The weird effect these positions have on your brain
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Reminder to stop sitting for long periods

I actually took the time yesterday, wrote it down and added it up. And, guess what — I sat for a grand total of 11 ½ hours.

Yep, over 11 hours sitting in a chair or on the couch. And, that doesn’t count the 8 1/2 hours of sleep I had the night before, giving me a grand total of just 4 hours where I was up and active.

Why am I sharing this with you? I’m certainly not proud of it.

I’m sharing it because I know I’m not alone. More and more of us spend larger and larger parts of our day doing something we know isn’t good for us — sitting.

And, while you probably know that getting up and getting moving is important to your heart, you may not know how vital it is to your brain.

But, it’s a fact that scientists have long been known that exercise has a positive impact on your brain health and your memory. It decreases your risk of Alzheimer’s and can even slow cognitive decline.

In fact, my colleague Virginia Tims-Lawson recently wrote an article about a study that showed that just taking a two-minute break from sitting to move around had big benefits to your brain, including increasing the flow of blood and oxygen that keep your brain cells alive.

And, it doesn’t stop there…

Recent research by scientists at Ludwig Maximilians University Munich in Germany found that whether you’re sitting, standing, walking or vigorously exercising — it all impacts your brain’s ability to store and access memories at different levels.

Activity counts

For the study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, the scientists used electroencephalography or EEG to measure participants’ brain activity doing memory tasks during periods with and without physical activity.

They analyzed brain activity while the volunteers were seated, riding a stationary bike, standing and walking and tested their visual working memory.

They found that:

  • Your visual working memory performs best when bicycling or walking versus sitting or standing.
  • Standing is better than sitting for minimizing memory errors.
  • Aerobic activity and standing speed your memory processing.

Why aerobic exercise matters

So, what makes the difference?

Why is your memory better when you’re active?

Well, according to the scientists, when you engage in aerobic activity, certain areas of your brain get a boost. These include your frontoparietal area, which is responsible for attention, and your dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which controls your working memory.

As researcher Thomas Töllner puts it, “Although modern society has evolved to become more and more sedentary, our brains may nevertheless perform best while our bodies are active.”

But some of us just can help that we have jobs where we sit for hours every day. Turns out just getting upright might help…

“Our behavioral results indicate that both acute aerobic exercise and upright posture expedited the overall speed of processing as compared to passive and seated conditions, while upright posture additionally served to reduce error rates,” researchers added.

So, there you have it. Taking standing or walking breaks could help cut down on the harm that sitting does to your temporal lobe — at least until you get home or to the gym to put in a real aerobic workout.


  1. Sitting, standing, walking: How do they affect your memory? — Medical News Today
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