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SEDENTARITY: Sitting in front of the screen is depressing

Previous epidemiological studies, cited by the researchers, have indeed pointed out the following association: people who spent more time sitting between April and June 2020 are also the most likely to exhibit symptoms of depression.

“Sitting is ‘sneaky’ behavior”,

writes Jacob Meyer, lead author of the study and professor of physiotherapy at Iowa State University. Her team here examines how physical activity and sedentary behaviors relate to mental health, and how changes in activity and sedentary lifestyle influence the way people think, feel and view the world.

The study: to better understand these changes, the team conducted a survey of more than 3,000 participants. The participants informed the time spent, before and after the onset of the pandemic, in their various activities including exercise, the duration of sitting, time spent in front of screens and, using ladders. standard clinics, indicated perceived changes in their mental well-being (depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness).

“We were able to determine when physical activity and screen time changed and how those changes are associated with overall mental health.”

Among the main results of the study:

  • participants who met physical activity guidelines (i.e. 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week) before the pandemic reduced their practice, on average by 32%, after COVID-19 restrictions;
  • these same participants reported feeling more depressed, anxious and feeling lonely;
  • when the restrictions were lifted, the participants saw their mental health improve;
  • for participants with a high sitting sedentary lifestyle, depressive symptoms, on average, did not dissipate in the same way as for less sedentary participants during the pandemic;
  • participants who continued to spend much of their day sitting experienced much more modest improvement in their mental health.

The study thus reveals an “association” between the sitting position and mental health and not a cause and effect relationship: it is indeed possible that the people most depressed then remained more sedentary or that the more seated people became. more depressed.

We must be aware that the lifestyle changes imposed by the pandemic may have had very harmful effects, stress the researchers, who recall that interrupting a period spent sitting, facing the screen for example, by a little trick every now and then, can be beneficial, both physically and mentally.

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