A new study has found that too much sitting is associated with
poorer mental health.
Scientists at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and
colleagues in Sweden have found that extended periods of sitting is
associated with poorer mental health.
In a series of studies linking questionnaire data with clinician
diagnoses of depression and anxiety, the study tested whether
certain types of sedentary behaviour might be worse for mental
health than others.
The Baker Institute's Head of Physical Activity, Professor David
Dunstan, said the study showed that sedentary behaviours that are
mentally-passive (such as TV-viewing) appear to increase the risk
of depression, whereas those involving mental activity (such as
reading, office work, and problem solving) may protect against
"Thus, in the context of psychological wellbeing, the way we use
our brain while sitting appears to be important," said Professor
"From a public health perspective,
reducing passive sedentary behaviour may help otherwise healthy
adults to reduce the risk of future depression."
The findings are published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Review
and builds on studies by the Baker Institute which have shown that
sedentary behaviour (in essence, too much sitting) significantly
increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and
"The average Australian adult sits for approximately 9 hours per
day. These risks may be partly offset by structured exercise, but
most people do not achieve the level of exercise needed to lower
the risks associated with too much sitting," said Professor
"Structured exercise should always be encouraged for better
physical health. In addition, however, encouraging people with
depression to engage in less passive sedentary behaviour is
potentially beneficial for treating depressive symptoms, especially
in those who find structured exercise difficult during the early
stages of treatment."