Sedentary activities that require minimal body movement are associated with increased risk of anxiety, according to new research. Researchers analysed the results of nine studies specifically examining the association between sedentary behaviour and anxiety risk, finding that there is a moderate connection between the two.
SEDENTARY BEHAVIOUR COULD INCREASE RISK OF DEVELOPING ANXIETY
The time spent engaging in sedentary behaviour, including low energy and screen-based activities such as computer use, electronic gaming, and television viewing, has emerged as a potentially important indicator of health in adult populations, independent of achieving sufficient physical activity.
According to the study published in the journal BMC Public Health, “a positive relationship exists between most sedentary behaviours and depression and self-esteem. However little is known regarding the relationship between sedentary behaviour and other mental illnesses such as anxiety.”
ANXIETY AFFECTS OVER 27 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE
Anxiety touches over 27 million people worldwide. Clinical anxiety affects around 10 percent of people in North America, Western Europe, and Australia/New Zealand compared to about 8 percent in the Middle East and 6 percent in Asia, according to a study by the University of Queensland.
Megan Teychenne, lead researcher and lecturer at Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) in Australia, said: “Anecdotally — we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behaviour. Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked. Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behaviour and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behaviour and anxiety symptoms.”
According to the study, anxiety is characterised by “excessive and persistent (yet often unrealistic) worry, which can inhibit one’s ability to carry out activities of daily living”.
SCREEN-BASED ENTERTAINMENT AND POOR METABOLIC HEALTH
According to the new study, engaging excessively in screen-based entertainment, such as video gaming, could increase the arousal of the central nervous system and disrupting sleeping patters, which in the long-term could influence the risk of developing anxiety. Alternatively, the link between sedentary behaviour and anxiety could be explained by poor metabolic health emerging across the lifespan.