Too much sitting and anxiety

Too much sitting and anxiety

Much has been written lately about the negative effect of too much sitting for nearly every aspect of your health.  It weakens your muscles, impairs blood circulation, and increases your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and obesity. But it seems that sitting all day at work, then sitting all night at home in front of the TV, are detrimental to your mental health, too.

A new study by researchers from Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research in Australia found that low-energy activities and sitting appears to make your anxiety worse. Working at a computer all day, watching TV, playing video games, or simply crouching over your phone or laptop in bed are all considered low-energy activities that impact your mental state.

Modern living has seen a big rise of anxiety disorders in recent years. While this increase in anxiety might result from several factors, such as more frequent use of technology and social media or increased traffic congestion and commuting times, the researchers wanted to look at the link between anxiety and sedentary living.

The study analysed nine different studies that had previously examined anxiety and sedentary behavior. Five of the nine studies found that sedentary behavior was associated with a higher risk of anxiety.

One-third of Australian adults are obese, and almost two-thirds have sedentary lifestyles that fuel obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The mental health consequences of the obesity epidemic haven’t been examined, though plenty of studies have associated lack of physical activity with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.  When your day is especially sedentary, make the choice to take a step outside and go for a thirty minute walk. The exercise, and hopefully time spent in nature, will do your mind and body good.

The goal of the scientists was to understand the behavioral factors that may be linked to anxiety, in the hope of developing evidence-based strategies to prevent/manage this condition. The researchers concluded that the evidence suggests a positive association between sitting time and anxiety symptoms. The point out however, that the direction of this relationship still needs to be determined through longitudinal and interventional studies.

Regardless of the direction of the relationship, from a physiological perspective, physical activity and increased metabolic fitness gives you an increased capacity to handle the body’s anxiety response.

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David Beard
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