How does a sedentary lifestyle impact your mental health

We’re pretty sure your social media is buzzing with ads telling to you get some exercise. Our environment is full of overt messaging that glorifies a sculpted figure. While we wouldn’t go as far as telling you to hit the gym and get that six-pack, exercise does have some significant benefits for your brain.

If you have a desk job like most of us, you spend the majority of your time sitting. Research tells us that sitting is how office workers spend almost 75% of their time. No, we don’t have a bone to pick with sitting. But it’s not doing us any favours.

We know that our sedentary lifestyles are costing us our physical health. It causes reduced metabolism and elevated risk of co-morbidities like cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes along with a host of other undesirable conditions.

But, have you ever thought about how our lack of movement might impact our mental health? Ever since COVID-19 brought the world to a halt, we’ve been spending so much of our time in front of the screen, working, mindlessly browsing the internet, scrolling through social media and binge-watching Netflix. This can’t be good for us.

Our lifestyles have become an unhealthy combination of lack of activity, excess screentime and barely any socialising. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? This is the paradox of modern life, where we know too much but we don’t do enough.

Lack of activity can have a profound impact on your cognitive functions and mental health. Here are a few ways it affects you:

Sleep: Does it ever feel like even after getting your 8 hours of beauty sleep, you wake up tired? A sedentary lifestyle is often associated with poor sleep quality. Physical inactivity puts you at a greater risk of insomnia and the barrage of health issues that come with it. Add to it the screen time before bed, and unhealthy eating, and it just makes for a disastrous combo.

Have you ever noticed how sound kids usually sleep? It has a lot to do with their frolicking about during the day. The more activity you get during the day, the tired you’re gonna be and the better you’re going to sleep.

Anxiety: This one’s a bit more complicated. Anxiety is caused by multiple factors but physical inactivity can certainly be one of them. In fact, research has shown an inverse relationship between an active lifestyle and anxiety. Spending most of your day sitting deprives you of endorphin release. Simply put, endorphins make you feel happy and reduce your pain perception.

Brain Fog: Brain fog is characterised by a lack of focus, confusion and inability to perform at your cognitive best. Many of us experience brain fog when we are extremely tired, have experienced something traumatic or when we are overwhelmed. It’s completely normal to feel this way sometimes.

The problem arises when brain fog becomes all too frequent. The main reason you might experience brain fog is when your brain is not getting enough nutrition, oxygen or blood flow. A sedentary lifestyle can really hinder this supply of nutrition to your brain because it literally slows your body down.

Rapid Aging: Your mind is a creature of habit. It has a way of setting into its own rhythm over time depending on your lifestyle. Lack of physical activity can make your brain lazy as well. Research shows us that a sedentary lifestyle is correlated to thinning in parts of the brain essential for the formation of memories. This can seriously age your brain and you might have difficulty remembering and learning new things if you’re chronically inactive.

We know, we’ve painted a pretty grim picture of a sedentary lifestyle so far. But we can’t help it. We want you to live a long, healthy and prosperous life and your sedentary lifestyle is seriously getting in the way of that.

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