Sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes for obesity and other chronic diseases. It has been proven that a sedentary lifestyle is linked to an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, even short bouts of sitting can have negative effects on our moods and overall mental health. While there are many factors that contribute to emotional health, being inactive is one of the most significant. As our bodies are designed to move throughout the day, staying active is one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle can be broken down into two categories: inactive and moderate. Inactive activities include watching television, playing computer games, and reading. These are all activities that require little to no movement but still contribute to physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. Moderate activities includes walking, running, and biking. All of these activities require moderate physical activity but still keep the body active throughout the day.
Inactivity is a significant contributor to premature death as well as poor mental health. In today’s society, it is becoming more and more popular to be sedentary. This is especially true for children and young adults who are constantly being told that they need to be active in order to stay healthy. Unfortunately, this message is not always well received by many people, who see sitting as a way of life. The results of this trend are clear: people are becoming increasingly emotional and unstable. Studies have shown that people who are inactive tend to have lower levels of happiness, energy, and satisfaction with life.
The Mind and Body Connection
There’s a strong connection between your body and mind. Whatever happens to you physically can affect your mental and emotional state. Keep your body active and strong, and you’ll help to have a clear and sound mind too. Resort to sedentary behaviors and your body weakens along with your mental and emotional health.
It is no secret that our minds and bodies are interconnected. What we do and how we feel physically can affect our mental health, and vice versa.
For example, if you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, your body may start to feel tense or experience pain. Conversely, if you are dealing with a physical health issue, such as a cold or the flu, it can be difficult to focus on anything else mentally. It is clear that there is a strong connection between our body and mind, and it is important to be aware of how these two aspects of ourselves interact.
The Effects of Sedentary Lifestyle on Emotional Health
Sedentary behaviors can cause mood swings, stress, anxiety, and depression. People who tend to watch a lot of television, or lay around for extended periods are more likely to be depressed than those who move more frequently and regularly.
One of the reasons for this is that lack of physical activities can affect your sleep, and sleep disorders are common symptoms of mental health issues.
Lack of sleep makes you irritable, impatient, and sensitive. It increases your negative moods, such as anger, sadness, and frustration.
You may overreact over small things, such as when plans don’t go your way. Even when something good happens, poor sleep makes you feel as if you have no energy so you can feel less excited or happy about it.
Sedentary behavior causes poor blood circulation. If you’re sitting for extended hours, the blood stays in your legs and feet and your upper body is deprived of an optimal supply of oxygen and nutrients.
When there is compromised circulation, it affects the regions in the brain that regulate your stress reactions and control your mood and motivation.
If you’re too sedentary, you can develop self-deprecating thought patterns. You may think of yourself in negative ways. It makes it difficult to see the brighter side of things and you feel less fun and vibrant.
A lack of physical activities makes your brain release more cortisol (stress hormones), which influences your fight or flight response. You can then find it hard to manage your emotions effectively.
How to Prevent Being Sedentary to Improve Emotional Health
Sedentary behavior can impact your emotional health negatively, but you can do something about it before it gets worse. Take care of your mental and emotional well-being by increasing your physical activities.
Here are some ways to do that.
Start By Making Small Changes
If you’ve been sedentary for too long but realize that it’s impacting your emotional health, don’t make drastic moves. You know you need to move more, but going from zero activity to an hour of workout every day can be counterproductive and dangerous to your health.
The key is to start making small changes so your body won’t be shocked or injured. It will also help you feel that you’re getting back in control of your life. Causing yourself extreme discomfort or pain will discourage further activity.
Engage In Small Activities
If you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to just sit around and watch TV, and before you know it, you’ve been sitting there for several hours.
Get up and find things to do around your house. There’s always a chore to do! Maybe you need to wash the dishes, wipe the dust off your ceiling fan, rearrange your bedroom cupboard, or mow the lawn and pull out the weeds, or, or, or… There is always something to do.
The movements you make to complete these chores will make a difference in getting you out of the sedentary lifestyle and improving your emotional health.
Plus, of course, you will feel better about yourself for having done what needs to be done.
Make Time For Regular Exercise
It can’t be emphasized enough. Exercise is crucial both for physical and mental health. Start with a few minutes of exercise if you’re coming from a completely sedentary lifestyle. Then gradually increase the amount and intensity of your exercise plan.
Even if you are only walking, good for you! Start by walking around the block, increasing to walking two blocks etc. If you only do 20 minutes per day, you will be doing 140 minutes a week. Or if you start by doing only 5 minutes a day and increasing it by a couple of minutes every day, you will soon be doing a lot more than only 5 minutes per day!
Regular exercise helps strengthen your body, consequently improving your sleep and mood. Also, when you feel good about your body, you’re more in control of your emotions too.
What happens to your body physically can affect you emotionally. Sedentary behaviors can lead to negative emotions and poor mental well-being. Lack of physical activities is linked to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and poor emotional health.
Being sedentary may feel comfortable at the time, but it’s ruining your health… slowly. But it’s never too late! Take small steps to make changes in your lifestyle. Find time to exercise. Walk more. Sit less. Move more and feel better.