Study links prolonged sedentary time to distractibility in adults with obesity

CHICAGO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — A study posted on the website of the University of Illinois (UI) on Wednesday revealed that individuals who spent more sedentary time in bouts lasting 20 minutes or more were less able to overcome distractions.

The researchers used accelerometers to track daily activity levels for a week in 89 adults with obesity or overweight and, in a series of tests, measured their ability to multitask and maintain their attention despite distractions,

The researchers collected baseline information for all participants, tested their cognitive ability and calculated each person’s body mass index and percent body fat. Participants wore accelerometers on their waists during waking hours for seven days. They also completed cognitive tasks and measures of brain function in a laboratory setting.

A statistical analysis of participants’ sedentariness in relation to their speed and accuracy on a task that measures distractibility found a relationship between the two.

“Our key finding was that people who spent more time in prolonged sedentary bouts were more easily distracted,” said UI kinesiology and community health professor Dominika Pindus, who led the work.

More research is needed to determine how the structure of a person’s sedentary time influences cognition, Pindus said.

Previous research found that regularly sitting for extended periods is linked to increased mortality and cardiovascular disease. People who do not engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sit for eight hours or more have an increased health risk. Other studies suggest that bouts of prolonged sitting lasting 20 minutes or more negatively affect levels of blood sugar after a meal.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Obesity.

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