People who spend a large part of their day sitting are more likely to feel anxious , suggests a new revision to several studies.
The findings, researchers say, do not prove that sitting in front of a TV or computer causes anxiety. Although it is pointed out as a possibility that people prone to anxiety choose the sedentary lifestyle
On the other hand, it should also be considered that excess downtime can affect mental well-being, said the principal investigator of this review, Megan Teychenne, of the Center for Deakin University of Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, in Victoria, Australia.
It could be an indirect way: If, for example, people lose sleep, since they spend hours online or watching television, these factors could contribute to the anxiety, explained Teychenne. It could also have effects more directly - if, for example, you practice a sedentary activity like playing video games which constantly stimulate the nervous system.
But all this, for now, is just speculation.
The important point, said Teychenne, is that there is a relationship between sitting and prolonged anxiety, something that should be more studied.
"We know that anxiety is a serious illness," he said, noting that in Australia, about one sixth of adults and adolescents have an anxiety disorder.
"With the increasing number of people who spend long periods of their day on computers, in front of the television and on their smartphones, it is important that we determine if the time we spend doing these activities, can lead us to have a greater possibility to suffer anxiety "said Teychenne.
The review, published online on June 19 in the journalBMC Public Health , analyzed nine international studies. Some focused on adults, some on children; some in people diagnosed with clinical anxiety, while others asked people to indicate how often they felt "worried, tense or anxious".
In general, Teychenne's team found that most studies have a correlation between people's time of sitting and people's day. your level of anxiety
However, there are also great warnings in these studies. Since most of these tests compared the same group of people with others, at the same moment in time, instead of following the same people over time.
That is why, said Teychenne, it is not clear what came first - anxiety or a sedentary lifestyle.
In addition, studies that focused on "screen time" - sitting in front of the television or computer - came to mixed conclusions. Some suggested a link to anxiety, while others did not.
"What we can say is: we know that the time, in general, of sitting - which often involves the use of computers, television, smartphones and other electronic devices - was linked to higher levels of anxiety symptoms" said Teychenne. "Therefore, it is important that we keep this in mind during our busy day-to-day lives."
Previous research has already found an association between sedentary behavior and physical illnesses. A review of 47 studies in Canada that was published in January 2015 found that being on a daily basis, sitting for a long time, is linked to having significantly greater chances of heart disease, diabetes , cancer and premature death.
Teychenne recommends that people make some walks, and even mentions that getting up and staying in this position for a moment and stretching, constantly throughout the day can bring great benefits to health.
"These simple things that can be done, are very important both for physical well-being and, potentially, for maintaining good mental health," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Manevitz, clinical psychiatrist Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City , He agreed.
"It's common sense," said Manevitz, who was not involved in the investigation. But like Teychenne, he stresses that the study does not prove cause and effect. However, he adds, there is some evidence that connects physical activity with mental well-being.
It is not a simple relationship, says Manevitz. On the one hand, people who are anxious or depressed can remain without going out and spending much of their day sitting - which could, in turn, worsen their mental health symptoms.
But it is also possible that too much inactivity can feed anxiety, according to Manevitz.And he said that animal research suggests that exercise can calm the brain's response to stress.
And then there's the role of physical health, Manevitz said: People who lead a sedentary life may have more chronic medical problems, that they would charge a toll on mental health.
"All these things - inactivity, depression, anxiety , physical health -. They affect each other. "It's a round trip," said Manevitz.
The doctor agreed that it is a good idea to take breaks at work - or when watching TV - to walk, stretch and move a little.
"You do not have to go around, to a class or to the gym to incorporate the activity in your life," said Manevitz.
For more information about anxiety disorders, you can consult it at National Institute of Mental Health.