How Sitting Can Increase Your Anxiety
In the last few years researchers have started to uncover how prolonged sitting and sedentary lifestyles can negatively affect health.
The list is pretty gruesome. Increased risks of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. That’s some rough consequences for just sitting idle.
This doesn’t just bring consequences for your physical health. It also has implications for your mental health. Some more direct than others.
One study has started to delve into how an idle lifestyle can affect our moods and personalities.
Connecting the Dots
We all get a little anxious from time to time. For some though, the worrying gets out of control to where it starts preventing them from living a normal life. Not just from a social standpoint, but can also manifest itself in physical ways.
Researchers have started to wonder if there’s a link between not moving and levels of anxiety. Megan Teychenne was the lead researcher for a study that examined a relationship between the two. She explains the motivation behind the research:
“Anecdotally, we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behavior. Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked.”
For Megan, some of the signs that sedentary lifestyle could affect a person’s mental health have already been made clear. She goes on:
“Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms.”
Their findings have been published in the journal BMC Public Health.
Megan and her team in Australia analyzed the data from 9 separate studies that looked at the link between anxiety and sedentary activities.
These activities largely looked at activities involved in sitting. They included television viewing, computer use, and work related sitting.
The researchers found that in 5 of the studies, increased sedentary activities was associated with increased anxiety symptoms. In 4 studies, it was found that sitting was also associated with anxiety levels.
When they looked at screen time, they also found evidence. While this link was not as strong as sedentary or sitting, there was a significant link. 36% of students who had more than 2 hours of screen time were more likely to experience anxiety.
So what could be the cause of all this worrying?
The scientists suggest several reasons why the lack of movement might be affecting us. It might be that it might disrupt our sleep patterns, possible social withdrawal or disconnect from personal relationships, or poor metabolic health.
Future studies will make the mechanisms behind the association more clear.
While the physical health issues are fairly well known, we’re still learning how much our sedentary lifestyles can affect our minds. Studies have begun to link depression with screen time and sitting, and this one gives us a hard look at anxiety.
Sitting is also very related to exercise, which is one of the best things you can do for your brain. The best way to counteract some of the side effects of an idle lifestyle isn’t hard. Simple and frequent breaks can be enough.
So remember, guys and dolls. If you find yourself sitting for extended periods of time, remember to get up frequently and move around a bit. Your brain will thank you.