What seems like a relaxing Netflix marathon could actually be stirring up stress and chronic worrying
What's more fun than a Netflix binge on a rainy weekend, or catching up on the latest thriller while snuggled up in your favorite chair? But if lounging is the primary way you relax, it might actually be having the opposite effect. Sitting for long periods of time is actually linked with increased anxiety, according to a new study out of Australia.
A meta-analysis of research on mood disorders found a strong correlation between time spent sitting and reported symptoms of anxiety—a real issue, as the average American sits for 9.3 hours a day. With 3.3 million Americans affected by chronic worrying (a number that is only rising, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America), finding and eliminating causes of all that worry has become a huge priority for many health experts.
The researchers are quick to note that sitting doesn't necessarily cause anxiety—perhaps anxious people simply want to sit more. But they do believe there is a connection between our sedentary lifestyle and the rise of the mental illness.
"What we can say is, we know that sitting time in general—which often involves the use of computers, television, smartphones and other electronic devices—was linked to higher levels of anxiety symptoms," said lead researcher Megan Teychenne, Ph.D. (Are You Too Attached to Your iPhone?)
Most of us sit when we're either watching TV or working, and the tech attachment could cause that gnawing feeling in your gut, researchers speculate. Not only is there the pressure from being on call for work 24/7, but a 2012 UK study found that even social media—the thing that's supposed to make us feel happier and more connected—can make us more anxious. (FOMO, anyone?)
In addition to tech, sitting itself can be harmful, increasing your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and death despite how much you exercise to offset it, as shown in a study published earlier this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers across the board have come to one common conclusion: The human body simply has a need to stand and move. And while it may seem impossible when you have deadlines looming (or a whole season of Game of Thrones to catch up on), you can actually Lower Your Risk of Death from Sitting in Two Minutes. Start with these 9 Ways to Stand More at Work.