It’s no secret that moving our bodies (ie., exercise and physical activity) brings serious improvements to our mind-body health.
But did you know moving your body can directly impact depression?
And, it’s no secret depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S.
While depression (and many other mental health conditions) do have a biological basis such as brain chemistry or genetic inheritance, depression can still be severely impacted by your behaviors, in both positive and negative ways.
That’s why I wanted to share with you a few behaviors that can influence depression- good and bad.
The Cold Hard Truth About Sitting On Your Bum
Have you ever wondered just how bad NOT moving is for your mind and body?
How all those hours sitting around, at home, at work, in your car, or at a table while you’re out to eat affect your overall well-being?
Well, if you’re like me, you mostly get curious about this when a symptom rears its ugly head.
Like when you’re feeling restless, unexplainably gloomy, or completely unmotivated…
Or, if someone you know shows a change in their normal mood.
- Feeling fatigued and sluggish after a long commute.
- Having a lack of motivation after getting sucked into the vortex known as Youtube
- Feeling blue after sitting around inside too long.
These are just fleeting states, moods if you will.
And they are ALL good signs to listen to.
Why should you pay close attention to signs such as these?
Feelings of fatigue, lack of drive, or feeling down can guide you to make a positive change in your behavior and lifestyle.
So, what does this have to do with depression?
How do sedentary behaviors affect depression and your mind-body health overall?
You see, All the sitting we do between work, parenting, commuting, entertainment, and just being part of modern society really adds up.
To shine some light on the relationship between sedentary behavior and its impact on wellness, I wanted to share a few stats and scientific data with you on the topic.
Let’s dive in… shall we?
Ok, according to a recent study…
- The average American adult (20+ yrs) sits—-6.4 hrs per day
- The average American adolescent (12-19 yrs) sits—-8.2 hrs per day
What?! Meaning, if you live a “normal” lifestyle, you are sitting 45 hours per week and approximately 200 hours per month. And what’s even worse than THAT… our adolescents are sitting even more.
This recent study confirms neglecting to move your body (sedentary behaviors) hurts your health both mind and body.
Because your mind is connected to your body in a very powerful way- What affects one, will eventually affect the other, good or bad.
But there may be some specifics to consider.
Namely, what you are doing while sitting.
In scientific language, “Our recent findings have highlighted potentially important differences between passive and mentally active sedentary behaviors”
Let’s break this down a little.
Sedentary behaviors can be classified in two categories which are: (1) Passive (2) Active
PASSIVE (Mentally Passive Sedentary Behaviors) are things like:
- watching t.v or device (while sitting or lying)
- listening to music (while sitting or lying)
- sitting or lying around (not sleeping)
- sitting as a passenger (bus, train, car, w/out doing a mentally active task)
ACTIVE (Mentally Active Sedentary Behaviors) are things like:
- using a computer for work or learning (while sitting)
- reading (while sitting or lying)
- participating in meetings or “work”-related discussions (while sitting)
- performing tasks that require problem-solving or mental “effort” (while sitting)
- playing games that require problem-solving e.g., video, board, paper, puzzles (while sitting)
- active use of social media (while sitting)
- conversing with others (virtual or in-person, while sitting)
- driving a vehicle (while sitting)
The distinction between the two behaviors matters because one can harm you and the other can actually protect you.
- Mentally Passive Sedentary Behaviors seem to increase the risk of depression
- Mentally Active Sedentary Behaviors seem to protect you against the onset of depression.
The Ugly, The Bad,
& The Good
Below I have put together a shortlist of the 3 levels of behaviors that affect your mind-body health and in different ways.
Organizing your own behavior in this way can guide your choices as to how you spend your time.
And this is a GREAT thing!
These behaviors are outlined below in terms of how well they serve you (mentally and physically).
- Level 1 Behaviors (Bad for both your mind and your body) These are sedentary behaviors that are “mentally passive” and these are the worst for your health out of the 3 levels. (example: watch T.V.)
- Level 2 Behaviors (Good for your mind but Bad for your body) These are again, sedentary behaviors but they are “mentally active” and these are better for your health compared to level 1. (example: play video games, reading, working/learning on a device.)
- Level 3 Behaviors (Good for your mind and your body) These are now, non-sedentary behaviors, meaning you are standing and moving. These are best for your health and well-being out of the 3 levels. (examples: walk/hike, exercise, sports, house cleaning, etc.)
So, whether you start to categorize or choose behaviors for you or your entire family, know you have a guide to avoid harm and gain optimal benefits for your whole self…body and mind.
Want to see how to put this process into action?
HECK YES, I’M IN IT TO WIN IT”
Here’s how to put this INFO to ACTION in 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get a Glimpse Determine what level you’ve been at for the last 3 days; average your days if needed. (If this is hard to determine or you’ve had an unusual past 3 days, keep track of your next 3 days’ activities and go from there.)
Step 2: Level Up Move up 1 level by choosing activities in that specific level (see above)
Step 3: Reflect Stay at this level for an entire day and take note of how you feel mentally and physically and TELL someone about it.
Once you try this system out for yourself, or anyone you recommend it to, let me know how it’s going.
Also, if you have any questions or comments about the information in this post, just drop them in the comment box below.