According to new research carried out at by Megan Teychenne, lead researcher and lecturer at Deakin University Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research in Australia, being a couch potato is bad for your health and can lead to increased anxiety.
While it’s a well-known fact that sitting for extended periods on the sofa, usually watching TV and eating potato chips, is bad for one’s physical health, the connection has now been made for mental health as well.
Teychenne’s study, which was carried out on teens as well as adults, found that people who spend too much time watching TV or surfing the internet, all while sitting on a comfy sofa in their living room, were more likely to suffer from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
The physical effects of sitting around for long periods, which include among other things obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes are bad enough, but when one considers the phycological effects, the story gets even worse.
Ms. Teychenne said to reporters in Australia, “Anecdotally – we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behavior. Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked. Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms.”
The link between watching television on the sofa for long periods also related to disturbances in sleep patterns as well as social withdrawal, which also had a negative effect on mental health.
Teychenne added, “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/managing this illness. 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.”
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