How does sitting affect cognition?


Sitting for prolonged periods can significantly impact cognitive function. Ezra Klein discusses research indicating that sitting still imposes a greater cognitive burden than standing or walking, as maintaining stillness requires mental bandwidth that could otherwise be used for learning or work tasks 1. This is particularly evident in children with ADHD, who often use physical activity to help them focus, similar to how adults might use caffeine. Fidgeting, for instance, can be a subtle way to adjust one's mental state 2.

Andrew Huberman highlights that a combination of sitting and standing throughout the day, using sit-stand desks, can greatly benefit cognitive performance. Alternating between sitting and standing helps reduce neck and shoulder pain and improves overall vitality and cognitive conditioning 3.

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Additionally, David Raichlen warns that sitting for extensive periods, such as 10-12 hours a day, dramatically increases the risk of dementia. This underscores the importance of physical activity in maintaining brain health and preventing cognitive decline 4.

In conclusion, regular movement and breaks from prolonged sitting can help maintain cognitive function and overall brain health. For optimal benefits, consider using sit-stand desks, encourage fidgeting, and integrate physical activity into your daily routine.