The Connection Between Sitting and Depression

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting,” states Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic Arizona State Obesity Solutions Initiative in his book, “Get Up!” And while that statement is certainly the extreme, he also states that low expenditure of energy, “is linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks and cancer”.

In another book entitled, “Sitting Kills”, the former Director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division Joan Vernikos, Ph.D. considers her original research on the debilitating effects of extended low-gravity environments on astronauts and shows how simple everyday movement can prevent pain, illness and early death. With more recent studies showing how extensive sitting can increase triglycerides, diminish good cholesterol and decrease insulin absorption, it is no wonder that extended sitting has aroused such concerns.

So, what about the emotional connection?

In a recent study of Australian women over 45 it was shown that those who sat more than 7 hours per day and did no physical activity were three times more likely to have symptoms of depression than women who sat less than 4 hours per day and engaged in physical activity. Another study of 3300 Australian government workers states that sitting for more than 6 hours increases psychological distress. A UK national wellness project showed that more non-work time spent on a computer was connected to lower mental well-being.

This research also poses the question: Did the sitting cause the depression, or was depression worsened by inactivity? Either way, movement is the key here. Dr. Levine contends that the usage of energy on non-sports related activities such as walking, dancing or snow shoveling can have just as much of a positive effect as formal exercise. He goes on to say that, “You will make more money if your workforce gets up and gets moving. Your kids will get better grades if they get up and get moving.”

Without a doubt, activity and movement are one solution to depression and bodily degeneration. Our brains depend upon consistent blood flow and the metabolism of glucose for health and creativity. Bodies are meant for movement, and our challenge is to find innovative ways to bring that dynamism back into our static lifestyles. Enjoy daily exercise and other spirited movements such as swimming, dancing, walking, skating, and activity at work, standing *and* sitting, micro-breaks, stretching, engagement with other employees, desk exercise bikes and desks, sit-stand stools, sit-stand desks, and proper posture. Be well!