Is Sitting Bad for Your Mental Health?
Last year, most people were ordered to stay home, avoid in-person social interaction, and generally be still until the proverbial dust settled. But what has all that sitting around and waiting cost us? As it turns out, it’s our mental health.
As we continue trudging through the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say there has been a marked increase in the number of people who are seeking treatment for anxiety and depression in the United States.
What’s the connection between sitting time and mental health?
In June of this year, the journal Sport Sciences for Health conducted a study to investigate the association between physical activity and sitting time on adults’ mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety, and wellbeing). This journal publishes reports of experimental and clinical research on the physiology and pathophysiology of physical exercise.
Over the course of two months in 2020, the study followed and tracked the physical activity, sitting time, and mental health of 284 participants between the ages of 21 and 45. What they found was the more time people spent sitting, the less time they spent being physically active. As a result, sitting time was strongly associated with adverse mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown and should be a primary consideration in future public health recommendations.
Did you know sitting for over 8 hours a day can, over time, decrease serotonin levels in the brain? It can also lead to a decrease in motivation, contribute to fatigue, and make it difficult to manage anxiety and stress. Moving our bodies doesn’t just promote physical health, it’s vital for maintaining and improving brain health as well. According to Celina Nadelman, MD, a board-certified cytopathologist and fine needle specialist, just 10 days without fitness can cause our brain to start losing cognitive function.
Mental health benefits of physical activity
Physical activity releases chemicals, like serotonin, in your brain that make you feel good. That’s why it’s so important to find an activity you enjoy. Not only can it boost your metabolism, and help you grow muscle, but it can also improve your mental health in these ways:
- Less tension, stress, and mental fatigue
- A natural energy boost
- A sense of achievement
- More focus and motivation
- A general feeling of mental wellness or happiness
For more information about how you can improve your mental health through movement, strength training, yoga, exercise, or acupuncture, call Jason Ferine Physical Therapy at 424-365-2083. We are firm believers in the healing power of human touch and focus our treatments around hands-on manual therapy.