Spending less time in your chair can lower your risk of heart disease, research has shown. Now, reducing your sitting time may also lessen feelings of depression, according to a new study that examined the relationship between sitting, activity level and depression.
Researchers in Australia analyzed the survey responses of 8,950 women who were between the ages of 50 and 55 in 2001. They were asked about their physical activity, sitting time and feelings. The women completed the survey a total of four times in three-year intervals, in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010. The researchers were looking for associations among all three areas in the present and in the future.
The researchers found that women who sat the most (more than seven hours a day) had a 47% higher risk for depressive symptoms than women who sat the least (less than four hours per day).
But inactivity had a greater effect on mood. Women who did no physical activity had a 99% higher risk for developing depressive symptoms than those who met exercise guidelines, according to the study. (The Australian government recommends 30 minutes per day on most days.) And women who both sat for multiple hours and got no exercise were three times more likely to have depressive symptoms than women who sat less and exercised more.
The authors note that sitting was not associated with future signs of depression. That is, the women who spent more time sitting were more likely to feel down in the present, but the act of prolonged sitting did not necessarily mean they would experience feelings of depression years later.
Exercise, however, could reduce the future risk of depression, according to the authors.
The findings are the latest in maelstrom of research of late on the negative health effects of prolonged sitting. Spending multiple hours in a chair is now considered a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, and no one is immune. Though running wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exempt you from sitting's ill effects, getting up from your chair every 20 minutes and walking around the office can help.
Read more from Runner's World.
photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock More from Women's Health:
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The Healthiest Way to Sit
Is Your Office Chair a Death Trap?