Too much sitting causes increased anxiety, finds new study

Enjoying your time working from home while sipping on your coffee, and leaning against the soft pillow? Or just sitting on your couch watching television? Or perhaps at your desk, on the comfy chair – typing vigorously on your keyboard? Sounds fun, and relaxing. But a new report has shown that too much sitting can put one at a risk of increased anxiety.

Researchers from Deakin University’s Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) in Australia has found in a new study that any activity associated with sitting – read watching television, playing video or computer games, and/or working on a computer all day long, known as “sedentary behavior,” can cause anxiety.

Over the years, a lot of reports have come up that showed how inactive lifestyle could be associated with a person’s physical health issues such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and obesity, but this is a first report that shows that it can pose a threat to mental health as well.

The report said that anxiety affects 27 million people globally, and it is a weakening health problem that can cause a person to cease his daily lifestyle. It has symptoms like tense muscles, pounding heartbeat, headaches, and difficulty in breathing.

C-PAN researchers conducted a test on nine people, five of whom were adults. They found out that five of them showed associations between sedentary behavior and anxiety with four of them showing associations between total sitting time and anxiety. Television and computer use showed less strong proof, but one study showed that 36 percent of high school adolescents who spent more than 2 hour watching television had more chances of anxiety disorder than those who spent less than 2 hours.

C-PAN researches said that the association between sedentary behavior and anxiety can be due to irregular sleep patterns, bad metabolic health, and social extraction theory. They explained, saying that extended screen time – read watching television or using computer can lead to detach of social connections which can be a reason of anxiety.

In the same EurekAlert report, Megan Teychenne, the lead author said that it is important to “understand the behavioral factors that may be linked to anxiety” for developing “evidence-based strategies in preventing/managing this illness.”

She added, “Our research showed that evidence is available to suggest a positive association between sitting time and anxiety symptoms – however, the direction of this relationship still needs to be determined through longitudinal and interventional studies.”

The study has been published in BMC Public Health.

So, the next time you get on that lounging around spree – wanting to get quality time for yourself, think twice.

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