Mental Health News – Many people became more sedentary due to the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent study revealed that individuals who spend a long period sitting in the weeks following were likely to have higher symptoms of depression.
In a new study, researchers at the Iowa State University examined survey responses of more than 3000 study participants across 50 states and the District of Columbia. In the survey, the participants reported how much time they spent sitting, exercising, or looking at screens. The study compared the participants’ behaviors during the pandemic and pre-pandemic times. Participants reported the changes they observed in their mental well-being.
According to the survey data, those who used to spend 2.5-5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week before the pandemic reduced their physical activity by 32% on average immediately after the pandemic restrictions went into effect. Additionally, the same participants developed more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
The researchers conducted another study to find whether these participants’ mental health and behavior changed over time and the participants were asked to fill out the same survey each week during April-June in 2020.
The study findings showed that participants who spend more time sitting during April and June 2020 tend to develop higher symptoms of depression. The second study result discovered that participants, on average, observed their mental health improvement over the eight weeks. Meanwhile, those who spend a long period of their day sitting observed blunted mental health improvements.
“People adjusted to life in the pandemic. But for people whose sitting times stayed high, their depressive symptoms, on average, didn’t recover in the same way as everyone else’s,” said Jacob Meyer, lead author of the study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Later, Meyer highlighted that finding an “association” between sitting and mental health is not the same as saying that sitting more hours causes depression. He said it’s possible people who were more depressed sat more or that people who sat more became more depressed. He said it’s possible people who were more depressed sat more or that people who sat more became more depressed. There is a need for more research to identify factors that explain how sitting is linked to depression. He even advised people to take short breaks while sitting for a long period or taking a short walk before and after the workday. Even a little bit of movement can improve our mood and mental health.
To Know More You May Refer To:
Meyer, J. D., O’Connor, J., McDowell, C. P., Lansing, J. E., Brower, C. S., & Herring, M. P. (2021). High sitting time is a behavioral risk factor for blunted improvement in depression across 8 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in April–May 2020. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.741433