• Health

Sitting all day is bad for your mental health

Uh-oh, looks like more bad news for the sedentary: sitting isn’t just bad for your physical health, it’s bad for your mental health, too.

A new study by Michelle Kilpatrick of the University of Tasmania and her team reveals that sitting for 6 or more hours at work may increase risks of mental health issues, like anxiety and depression.

Kilpatrick and researchers collected data from 3367 state government employees as part of a health outreach program. Participants filled out surveys on anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, and reported their physical activity. They also filled out other surveys to eliminate confounding factors like overall job satisfaction or off-hours exercise.

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The data showed that employees who sat for upwards of 6 hours at work experienced increased rates of anxiety and depression, compared to their colleagues who didn’t spend as much time sitting.

And in more startling news: even if people went to the gym after work, or were otherwise active in their off hours, they still showed higher rates of anxiety and depression than folks who sat for less than 3 hours a day.

The connection between sitting and mental health issues isn’t entirely clear -- the study didn’t find any negative associations with the act of sitting itself, just a correlation of behaviors -- but it’s enough to make us stand up and take notice.

If you have to sit all day long, consider taking periodic walks around the block to break up your day and get the blood flowing -- they’re great for re-energizing, too. Instead of sneaking in social media, why not do some stretches to get you out of your seat? Or take the leap and DIY a standing desk.

Freelancers, how do you set up your workspace? Do you work sitting, standing, or even walking on a treadmill? Let us know in our hive, Freelance lifestyle: Best practices!

Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She likes going for walks to stretch out and pretending that spinning around in her office chair counts as exercise.