Sitting on duff can lead to anxiety and depression

Sitting on duff can lead to anxiety and depression

Beware of the sedentary life. Long spells of sitting have already been linked to a host of physical ailments. Now, scientists say, it can contribute to heightened anxiety and depression.

Researchers at Iowa State University took a closer look at behavior and mental well-being in early and mid-2020. That’s when the pandemic created legions of new couch potatoes. Those who spent more time sitting during a three-month period that year were more likely to feel depressed and anxious.

The scientists analyzed survey responses from more than 3,000 people in every state and the District of Columbia. People self-reported how much time they spent sitting, exercising and using electronic devices compared with pre-pandemic times. They also indicated changes to their mental well-being, including depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness.

Among the more active people — those who got up to five hours of exercise a week before the pandemic — their physical activity dropped by 32% after COVID-19 restrictions took effect. Meanwhile, their depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness increased.

That effect was even more pronounced among those who were less active heading into the pandemic. For people whose sitting times stayed high during early COVID-19, their symptoms of depression intensified significantly. The less active people also did not bounce back as quickly from their depressive feelings compared with more active people.

The researchers said one helpful strategy is to be aware of your lack of activity. Take regular breaks from your computer work to move around. For remote workers, a walk around the block can replicate the morning commute.

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