HEALTHY LIVING

Sitting Too Much Could Be Wrecking Your Mental Health

06/19/2015 01:46 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2015

Here's a PSA if you're thinking about lounging around all weekend: Sitting too much may be associated with an increased risk for anxiety, according to new research.

Researchers in Australia at Deakin University's Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research found that sedentary behavior -- think excessive TV watching or working at a computer all day -- may have a negative effect on mental health.

The Background
There is a well-established body of research that links sedentary activities to an increased risk of physical health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure, but less is known about the mental health repercussions of not being active, the researchers stated. This is the first review to take an extensive look at the relationship between anxiety and inactive behavior, according to the researchers.

The Setup
Researchers reviewed nine separate studies that took an in-depth look at anxiety as it related to total sitting time for low-energy activities like watching TV and playing electronic games. Seven of the studies were strictly limited to adult participants, but two of the studies included teens and children.

The Findings
The results, which were published in the journal BMC Public Health, found an association between sedentary behavior and increased anxiety in five of the nine studies. The total amount of sitting time also seemed to be a factor in four of the nine studies.

However, the researchers note that since the studies reviewed were cross-sectional -- meaning they were conducted based on interviews rather than using a controlled study environment -- more follow-up studies are needed to confirm if anxiety is caused by inactive behavior. Given that millions of people are affected by anxiety disorders, it's an area the study authors are pushing to explore further.

"It is important that we understand the behavioral factors that may be linked to anxiety in order to be able to develop evidence-based strategies in preventing and managing this illness," lead researcher Megan Teychenne, a lecturer at the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, said in a statement.

The Takeaway
The study joins a host of other research that supports an active lifestyle when it comes to mental health. Studies suggest just walking in nature for a few minutes can boost your mood and physical exercise has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms. Too much tech use may also influence mental health.

In other words, you may want to forego that Netflix binge -- your body and your brain will thank you for it.

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