Teens who spend too much time sitting may have an increased risk of depression

Teens who spend more time being sedentary may have a higher risk of depression, according to new research. — domoyega/Istock/AFP pic
Teens who spend more time being sedentary may have a higher risk of depression, according to new research. — domoyega/Istock/AFP pic

LONDON, Feb 13 — New UK research has found that teens who spend too much time being sedentary may have a higher risk of depression later in adolescence.

Led by University College London, the new study looked at data gathered from 4,257 adolescents who had been asked to wear accelerometers, a device which tracks movement, for at least 10 hours a day over at least three days at ages 12, 14 and 16.

The accelerometers were able to determine if the participants were sedentary or taking part in light activity such as walking or hobbies like playing an instrument or painting, or moderate-to-physical activity such as running or cycling.

Depressive symptoms, which include low mood, loss of pleasure, and poor concentration, were measured with a clinical questionnaire.

The findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, showed that doing an extra 60 minutes of light activity a day at age 12, 14, and 16, such as walking or doing household chores, was associated with a 9.6 per cent, 7.8 per cent and 11.1 per cent reduction, respectively, in depressive symptoms at age 18.

In addition, the team also found that for every additional 60 minutes of sedentary behaviour per day at age 12, 14, and 16 there was an increase in the participants’ depression scores by 11.1 per cent, 8 per cent or 10.5 per cent, respectively, by age 18.

Moreover, the participants who had consistently high amounts of sedentary time at all three ages had 28.2 per cent higher depression scores by age 18.

“Our findings show that young people who are inactive for large proportions of the day throughout adolescence face a greater risk of depression by age 18. We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial,” said the study’s lead author, PhD student Aaron Kandola.

“We should be encouraging people of all ages to move more, and to sit less, as it’s good for both our physical and mental health.”

The study’s senior author, Dr Joseph Hayes also added that, “A lot of initiatives promote exercise in young people, but our findings suggest that light activity should be given more attention as well.”

“Light activity could be particularly useful because it doesn’t require much effort and it’s easy to fit into the daily routines of most young people. Schools could integrate light activity into their pupils’ days, such as with standing or active lessons. Small changes to our environments could make it easier for all of us to be a little bit less sedentary,” he added. — AFP-Relaxnews

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