How Does a Sedentary Lifestyle Affect Mental Health?

We all know the many side-effects of being inactive on our physical health – we begin to gain weight, we are at greater risk of disease, we may begin to look a little different, and are even more likely to get certain types of cancer.

Despite this, however, mental health in relation to living a sedentary lifestyle is rarely discussed. So that we’re on the same page, as mentioned by Medline, sedentary activity is defined as lots of sitting or lying down with no to very little exercise. Worryingly, more and more popular in the United States, and across the world are becoming increasingly sedentary. This is especially true with more people working from home – there is no daily commute, no reason to leave the house, and so forth. 

The effect of sitting for long periods of time with very little to no exercise may present various mental health issues; of which will be discussed in this blog post.

Increased risk of depression

Firstly, those who spend more time sitting and less time on their feet (i.e. living a sedentary lifestyle) are active are at a greater risk of depression. This is made evident due to numerous reasons, including less social interaction and less serotonin being released into the body.

Serotonin is a hormone responsible for feelings of happiness, wellness, fulfillment, and various other psychological benefits. When we exercise or are more active, more serotonin is present within our bodies. This allows us to feel better, a lot better than our prior sedentary lifestyle ways.

Living a sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of anxiety

Alongside being at an increased risk of depression, sedentary lifestyles may also increase your risk of anxiety, as found by this 2018 study. The reason behind this is slightly vague, but is likely to be related to a lack of social interaction, a loss of confidence, and general social discomfort. 

Sleep disorders

Finally, those who live a sedentary lifestyle are also more prone to sleep disorders. There are various sleep disorders out there. However, a complaint by many who are sedentary is that they struggle to sleep.

Regular exercise not only tires you out so that it’s easier to fall asleep, but it also improves your sleep quality. 

Incorporating exercise and active behaviors into your daily routine will help you feel better, be more confident, and will go a long way to improving your mental health.