Spending too much time sitting down can impact your mental health
02/18/2019 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Sitting down for hours has become the norm. It's become far too common for a lot of us to spend seven to eight hours on our butts, working, and being glued to our desks. However, this is contributing to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, which can take a toll on health.

According to a new study, this unhealthy lifestyle could affect your mental health as well. Researchers from Kobe University and Waseda University in Japan found that lack of exercise could negatively affect mental health.

Exercise has been known to help prevent or treat various diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. On the other hand, a lack of exercise can contribute to the development or worsening of these conditions. (Related: Sitting down too much can make you stupid — new research says a sedentary lifestyle alters areas of the brain linked to memory.)

Moving from one country to another can be stressful and can affect health and exercise routines. For this study, the researchers aimed to determine the relationship of exercise, time spent sitting down, and mental health for Japanese expatriates in Malaysia. Malaysia, which is a popular long-stay destination for Japanese citizens, is a country that has high obesity rates, with more of its people being diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes each year.

In conducting the study, the researchers carried out a survey involving 130 participants. The survey measured exercise behavior, sitting behavior time, and health-related quality of life. It also included sociodemographic factors such as age, sex, and employment.


The participants were then divided into three groups based on their exercise routine: non-exercise group, or those currently not exercising; preparation group, or those exercising but not regularly; and exercise group, or those who exercise regularly.

After adjusting for sociodemographic factors such as age and sex, the researchers found that the exercise group spent an average of 135 minutes less time sitting down every day compared to the preparation group. Additionally, their scores for health-related quality of life was 5.5 points higher, on average.

Published in the journal Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, the findings suggest that promoting physical activities can help lessen sedentary time and improve quality of life.

"Building on this study, we would like to gather further information to develop strategies that promote health among Japanese people," said lead researcher and Associate Professor Kazuhiro P. Izawa of Kobe University.

Ways to stay active when you have a sedentary job

Eighty percent of contemporary jobs today are sedentary or involve only light activity. In fact, jobs that involve at least moderate physical activity have declined from 50 percent in 1960 to 20 percent today. This is alarming because spending too much time sitting can lead to health problems. Worry not, you can make these small changes at work to increase your activity and avoid possible health problems:

  • Take a break every hour: Try to get up from your desk every hour and move around for about five minutes. This will activate your muscles and enhance blood flow.
  • Avoid ordering food online: Ordering food online may sound easy and convenient, but eating and working simultaneously is not good for your health. Use your one-hour lunch break to go out and eat. By going out for lunch, you will move your muscles, get fresh air, and have some time to talk with your co-workers. This will also help refresh your body and mind.
  • Stand: You don't have to sit for eight hours doing your job. Instead of sitting, try to elevate your computer with a riser so that you can work while standing.
  • Sit on an exercise ball: If you don't want to stand, you can use an exercise ball as your chair. Unlike sitting on a chair, sitting on an exercise ball will force you to sit up straight, strengthen your core, and tone your muscles.
  • Take the stairs: Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is probably one of the easiest ways to get your cardio workout. It will increase your heart rate, boost your energy, and even strengthen your immune system.

Read more news stories and studies on the health benefits of physical exercise by going to Slender.news.

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