Prolonged Sitting and Brain Health Project

About the Project

The overall goal of this study is to examine the effect of an acute bout of prolonged sitting on cerebrovascular function in healthy weight and obese children, to determine whether exercise breaks afford protection against sitting-induced dysfunction and whether this is developmentally divergent.

Canadian children are spending more than 60% of their waking day sedentary. The consequences of excessive sedentary behavior are not well understood, but there is growing evidence that with increasing sedentary time, cardiovascular risk in childhood also increases. The obese child sits more than their non-obese peers, which may further exacerbate the metabolic and vascular dysfunction that accompany obesity. We have recently shown in an experimental manipulation of sitting that a 3-hour uninterrupted sit causes a profound (33%) reduction in peripheral vascular function in healthy weight children, which can be prevented by breaking up sitting with regular exercise breaks. In adults, sedentary aging is associated with declines in cerebrovascular and cognitive function, but it has yet to be determined whether excessive sitting imparts similar declines in cerebrovascular function (cerebrovascular blood flow, cerebrovascular reactivity, cerebrovascular autoregulation and neurovascular coupling) in children, or whether this can be counteracted using exercise breaks.



This project has been generously funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.



Tallon CM, Barker AR, Nowak-Flück D, Ainslie PN, McManus AM. (2020). The influence of age and sex on cerebrovascular reactivity and ventilatory response to hypercapnia in children and adults. Exp Physiol. DOI:10.1113/EP088293