Does a Sedentary life Cause Anxiety?

Sitting for too long every day can be bad for your physical and mental health. Between the increased use of IT and work-from-home situations, you may be sitting more than in the past. Many people sit for more than 8 hours a day!

Spending a normal day curled up on the couch with your laptop, and then downtime in front of the TV or playing video games can affect your physical health, as well as your mental health.

When you have a sedentary lifestyle, you are maintaining an unhealthy balance of rest and activity, where rest has more emphasis.

How Does Being Sedentary Affect Your Mental Health?

According to research conducted, most young adults sit for more than 8 hours a day, which puts them at greater risk of developing a chronic disease. This lifestyle also increases your chance of anxiety and depression. Along with this, low sleep quality can also snowball into other health concerns, which can lead to a lack of motivation. Even with regular exercising, sitting more than 8 hours a day can negatively affect your mental health.

Research shows that when you spend less time sitting, you are more likely to get out and do things you love, instead of staying in bed or on the couch feeling depressed.

Can Being Inactive Cause Anxiety?

Studies found that there is moderate evidence between sedentary behavior and increased anxiety.

Why Can Prolonged Sitting and Increaded Anxiety be Linked?

A theory is that a sedentary lifestyle comes from the frequent use of screen-based equipment such as video gaming. As a result, your brain becomes excited by the activity, while it can increase anxiety at the same time. Too much screen time affects your sleep which in turn increases stress levels, leading to more anxiety.

Another theory is that inactivity sets off a chain reaction that can cause other health conditions. For example, sitting for long periods can lead to diabetes, and this impacts your mental health as well.

It is also possible that anxiety leads to inactivity, rather than the other way around. When you experience anxiety, you can become tired more easily and find it harder to sleep, leading to less physical activity.

Emotional health and physical activity are connected. When you engage in more physical activity, you gain more confidence and you can develop more social connections. Subsequently, you can boost your mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.

It is never too late to start engaging in a more active lifestyle.

Take Movement Breaks

Every hour, take a 10-minute break to move. You can stand, stretch, jog in place, play with your dog or cat, or walk to get your mail. It does not have to be something extreme.

Also, consider getting a standing desk if your job is the main culprit leading you to sit for many hours.

Plan Physical Activity into Your Daily Routine

Thirty minutes of exercise for 3-5 days a week can counteract some of a sedentary lifestyle. Movement significantly decreases anxiety symptoms. By adding an activity to your schedule, you can better your chances of doing it without feeling rushed. You can use 30 minutes of your lunch break to go for a walk, or even wake up just a bit earlier to fit in some activities without causing more stress.

Start Small and Go Slow

If you are not physically active, start slowly and work your way up to the level of exercise you need. Here are some small examples:

• Park further away from your work • Skip the elevator and take the stairs • Help someone do yard work (or do your own yard work) • Walk your dog

From here you can gradually increase the time and intensity each week.

Find Someone to Join

Anything is always more fun with a loved one or a friend. They can also help you stick to your routine. A study also showed when one partner changes their behavior to a more healthy one, the other partner is more likely to make the same changes.

Set a Motivating Goal

You want your activity goals to be realistic. It is crucial that the goals are achievable, so you are motivated, and not discouraged. Examples of goals include:

• Walk one kilometer a day, 3 days a week • Attend an exercise class, 2 times a week • 15 minutes of weightlifting, 2 times a week

Speak to a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise regime to make sure it is safe for you.


Having an inactive lifestyle can be bad for your health, and this includes your mental health. Sitting for too long every day can lead to a higher chance of anxiety and other mood disorders. What causes the link between anxiety and a sedentary lifestyle is not always clear, but it may be connected to poor sleeping habits, stress, and a lack of motivation to participate in activities. At the same time, anxiety could cause a sedentary lifestyle.

It is very natural to want to rest, especially when life gets stressful and challenging. However, finding a good balance can improve your mental health and lower your anxiety levels.

If you are having trouble managing anxiety or getting more activity in your day, reach out to Laurian Ward to get the support you need.