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This Is Your Brain on the Sofa

Feb. 3, 2014|672 views

A memorable public service announcement once warned against the dangers of street drugs by showing a frying egg sizzling in an overheated skillet. “This is your brain on drugs,” went the tag line. Of course we know that illicit drugs can be bad for your health. But what about passive acts, like...well, sitting? Doing nothing.

As it turns out, sitting can also alter your brain. And not in a good way. I know with busy lifes always on the go, we think to ourselves I deserve this hour of peaceful zoning out in front of the T.V. or maybe getting the new gossip on the hottest Hollywood couple but it is only hurting us! Trust me, the body and brain needs physical activity daily only if it’s 15 or 20 minutes. I encourage you to spend this time with loved ones; creating healthy habits like exercising through a sense of play, we help kids cultivate good habits, think for themselves and give them a good quality of life.

Research continues to document the many ways in which inactivity is harmful. A recent study published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology showed that inactivity causes structural and functional changes in nerve cells in a portion of the brain that is crucial for the health of the cardiovascular system.

In essence, these changes seem to alter the way the brain reacts to stimuli. Researchers believe these changes in the brain may account for a loss of robustness in the hearts of people who are sedentary. This suggests a mechanism by which being inactive may damage a person’s cardiovascular health. All of which underscores the importance of staying active, in any way you can. Take the stairs whenever possible. Stand up to work at your desk if you can. Turn off the TV. Take a walk. Instead of jumping in the car, walk to the corner store. It all helps, just as long as you’re not sitting, doing nothing. Your heart will thank you.

Mischel NA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Mueller PJ. Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb 15;522(3):499-513. doi: 10.1002/cne.23464.

Tags:  health tips, workouts, body image, cancer risks