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Sedentary behaviour increases risk of anxiety

Research finds 'a positive association between sitting time and anxiety symptoms'

17 July 2015

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Low-energy activities that involve sitting down are associated with an increased risk of anxiety, research has found.

In the first systematic review to examine the relationship between anxiety and sedentary behaviour, it found that activities like working at a computer or watching TV can result in higher anxiety.

"We are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behaviour," said Megan Teychenne, lead researcher and lecturer at Deakin University's Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) in Australia.

"Our research showed that evidence is available to suggest a positive association between sitting time and anxiety symptoms."

It found in five of the nine studies that an increase in sedentary behaviour is associated with an increased risk of anxiety. In four of the studies, total sitting time was associated with an 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 participants that had more than two hours of screen time were more likely to experience anxiety compared to those who had less than two hours.

The researchers have suggested that the link between sedentary behaviour and anxiety could be due to disturbances in sleep patterns, social withdrawal and poor metabolic health.

Anxiety is a mental health illness that affects more than 27 million people worldwide. It is a debilitating illness that can result in people worrying excessively and can prevent them from carrying out their daily lives.

It can also result in physical symptoms, including a pounding heartbeat, difficulty breathing, tense muscles and headaches.

The research paper 'The association between sedentary behaviour and risk of anxiety: a systematic review' is published in BMC Public Health.




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