Most of us have heard about all the negative health risks that come along with sitting disease. There’s spinal compression, back and neck pain, a slowed metabolism, less caloric burn, and decreased blood flow and oxygenation just to name a few. It’s been shown that sitting more than six hours a day is bad for your health, and not even an hour of vigorous exercise can undo the harmful effects a day’s sitting has on the body. But, has anyone ever considered the harmful effects sitting has on the mind?

Data gathered by one psychological scientist suggests that sitting over 6 hours a day has a negative impact on mental health. Data for the study was gathered from 3367 government employees who filled out an assessment for symptoms of anxiety and depression over the last month. Employees who sit more than 6 hours a day reported having more symptoms of moderate anxiety and depression than those who only sat 3 hours a day.

Women who sat long hours during the day had higher levels of psychological distress than men who sat the same amount of time. The study did not account for any stressors outside of the office, so it is hard to say if women were more affected by external elements than men. Interestingly, it was found that exercise after work did not protect people from the harmful effects of sitting. Those who considered themselves physically active after work but sit 6+ hours during the day were more affected by the negative mental health risks of sitting than those who sit less than 3 hours a day.

The exact reason why so much sitting can have negative effects on your mind is unclear. It’s likely that it’s a combination of physical and psychological factors. When you sit down your muscles stop contracting, which can decrease oxygenated blood flow to the brain.  Another physical factor that comes into play is your overall feeling of wellbeing after sitting for long periods. Your body can feel tired, stiff, or sore which will negatively affect your mental state.

An Australian study done on over 9000 women concluded that women who sat for 7+ hours a day were at a 47% higher risk of developing depression than those who sat for 4 or less hours per day. The study also found that women who don’t participate in any type of physical activity had a 99% higher risk of developing depression than those who exercised. The researchers determined that increasing physical activity could alleviate existing depression symptoms and potentially prevent future symptoms.

When most jobs require you to sit all day at a computer and we have apps on our phones that shut off the lights in our houses, it can become work just to find ways to be active. One thing that can be beneficial for your mental and physical wellbeing is the use of a sit-to-stand desk at work.  Half of your work day can easily be spent standing up which can cut your sit time down to 3-4 hours. Imagine the benefits for your overall wellbeing. The product featured in the image is an Ergotron Workfit T, which is an economical solution for those who want a rising desk space. There is an option for every body!