We’ve all heard the expression “sitting is the new smoking.” Basically, it’s a fancy way to say “sitting down will increase your risk of health problems.” Previous studies have indicated that sitting can decrease mobility, weaken muscles, and slow metabolism. Now, according to a new study from the University of Warwick, it turns out sitting plays a role in both depression and obesity.
A team of university researchers found that pregnant women suffering from depression symptoms were prone to sitting down for longer periods of time. More than 1,200 women participated in the study. During the first trimester, they all filled out a questionnaire that evaluated their emotional wellbeing and amount of physical activity. They filled out the questionnaire again at the end of the second trimester of their pregnancy.
The study found a few very interesting things:
- First, women who suffered from self-reported symptoms of depression during the second trimester of their pregnancy tended to spend more time sitting down.
- Second, the more sedentary women tended to gain more weight in the second trimester of pregnancy.
- Third, women who spent more time sitting ended up engaging in less physical activity—moderate or vigorous.
- Fourth, the sedentary pregnant women suffered from higher blood glucose levels by their 28th week of pregnancy. This put them at a much higher risk of gestational diabetes than the women who were active.
As this study proves, pregnant women need exercise in order to stay healthy. The data indicates not just a higher risk of gestational diabetes, but also extra weight gain as a result of a lack of exercise. The initial BMI, age, or even socio-economic status of the women didn’t matter—the more sedentary ones all ended up gaining weight and being at a higher risk of gestational diabetes thanks to the time they spent sitting down.
The good thing about exercise is that it can help to reduce the symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, along with serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals all improve your mood and help you to feel more positive emotions. By moving around, you can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, and depression. One simple activity: a cure for a lot of different problems that could affect your health.
1. University of Warwick. “Depression, weight gain in pregnancy linked to sitting down.” ScienceDaily, 3 November 2015.