Scimex: The first systematic review to examine the relationship between sedentary behaviour and anxiety has found that prolonged sitting, such as watching TV, working on a computer or playing electronic games, is linked to increased risk of anxiety in adults and children. The study was published today in the open access journal BMC Public Health.
Megan Teychenne from Deakin University's Centre for Physical Activity
and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) and lead researcher on the study, said
that anxiety is a common and growing problem, estimated to affect 27
million people worldwide.
"Anxiety is a debilitating illness
affecting 14 per cent of Australian adults, but it's not just the
everyday symptoms such as a racing heart and headaches that we get from
our busy lives and financial pressures that we need to worry about.
has been linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer,
so we need to identify ways to reduce the risk of this serious illness,"
Dr Teychenne said an increase in anxiety symptoms in
modern society, seemed to parallel the increase in the time we now spend
sitting, so she was interested to see if the two were in fact linked.
with her colleagues she found that only nine studies have investigated
the link between sitting time and anxiety risk, with seven focusing only
on adults and two on children and adolescents.
In five of the
nine studies, an increase in sedentary behaviour, or sitting, was found
to be associated with an increased risk of anxiety. In four of the
studies it was found that total sitting time was associated with
increased risk of anxiety. The evidence about screen time (TV and
computer use) was less strong, but one study did find that 36 per cent
of high school students that had more than two hours of screen time were
more likely to experience anxiety compared to those who had less than
"From the results we did find sitting was linked to
increased risk of anxiety, so it is important for both adults and
children to try and sit less during the day.
"Even if you go for
a run after work, if you sit for long periods of the day at your desk,
or tend to sit on the couch for long periods after school or work, then
you might potentially be at higher risk of anxiety," she said.
Teychenne said that while this a relatively untapped area of research
and further studies are needed to help provide a clear picture of the
link between sitting and the risk of anxiety, there are simple things
that can break up your sitting time.
"If you work in an office
job then stand up for a few minutes every hour and grab a glass of
water, walk to the printer, or try a standing desk. Stand on public
transport rather than sit and encourage the whole family to get up
during ad breaks if you are watching TV.
"So start today, make some simple changes and stand up for the sake of your mental health," she said.