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Sitting Too Much Can Increase Anxiety and Depression Risk

man sitting sad

Sitting Too Much Can Increase Anxiety and Depression Risk


Do you sit for long periods due to your line of work? We know that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor physical health and can increase one's risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. But research shows that sitting too much with inactivity can also affect your mental health, putting you at risk of anxiety and depression.

This is just one out of the myriad of things the Covid-19 pandemic opened our eyes to.

The pandemic, which necessitated a stay-at-home order, brought an abrupt change to lives all over the globe. For a considerable part of 2020, the Coronavirus outbreak turned daily commute into back-and-forth transitions between the bedroom and living room. Clicking Zoom links replaced driving to meeting venues, and hours of sitting down watching Netflix ate into gym time. In short, people were sitting more than they've ever had.

The result? People who sat more suffered higher symptoms of depression. It seems as though we are better off physically and mentally when we are up and about. Of course, resting after a good day's job is a great idea. But lounging for days on end or working at a desk job that requires no more activity beyond staring at the computer all day is never good for our physical and mental health.

The study was published by Iowa State University

Your Mental Health Improves When You Move About More

During the Covid-19 lockdown from April to June, 2020, people's mental health improved as they adjusted to life amid the pandemic. They didn't feel as lonely and depressed as they felt at the onset of the lockdown once they found ways to cope.

But for people who continued sitting down for long periods, their depressive symptoms didn't recover as fast as everyone else's.

This is striking. It shows how something as seemingly trivial as sitting or moving can greatly influence our mental health. As opposed to sitting, moving about more can reduce your risks of anxiety and depression.

"The acute effects of exercise, as soon as someone starts moving, are really powerful and in particular are really powerful for people who have high levels of depression or anxiety," the lead researcher Jacob Meyer said, "and so as soon as someone starts moving, even if it's just getting up and going for a walk, their neurobiology changes and the way that they feel starts to improve."

If you're already battling with depression and anxiety, every cell in your body might tell you to remain in the confines of your bedroom. But you are better off when you get active and move about. 

Even though you work from home, finding ways to incorporate movement into your day can be very beneficial to your mental and physical health.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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