Depression and Sedentary Lifestyle

All of us feel sad, feel low or just moody or withdrawn from time to time and then recover; and most of the times there is a justifiable reason for the same. On the other hand, for some people these feelings are experienced very strongly and intensely, for long periods of time – at times for weeks, months or even years and most of the times this occurring without any apparent reason of stimulus.


Depressive disease is more than just a feeling of low mood – it’s a serious condition that has serious impact on both physical and mental health. It is also highly prevalent; as high as one in five women and one in eight men experience depression at some point in their lives.

Depression is a complicated condition and in most cases is multi factorial i.e. involves a number of contributing factors such as genes, personality of the individual, social environment, lifestyle etc.

In addition to the above, it has been seen that depressed people, on an average, exercise only about half as compared to those who aren’t depressed. It is also noted that depression and exercise influence each other – a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of depression and depression increases the likelihood of a person not exercising. Additionally, this lack of cardiovascular fitness puts a depressed person at an increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure and diabetes.

It is a well-known fact that sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus etc. but not many people are aware that those who lead sedentary lifestyles are more prone for being clinically depressed as compared to the ones who exercise regularly and generally lead an active life. People who spent more time surfing internet or worked on computers or just watched television (couch potato) are more likely to have clinical depression.

Chinese researchers have proven that sedentary behaviour is linked to a 25% higher possibility of being afflicted with depressive disease as compared to those who are not sedentary.

And why should sedentary life put you at risk of depression?

It is hormonal play – we have a hormone called Serotonin, which is needed to effectively counter depression and anxiety. This Serotonin is not released enough in those not leading a physically active lifestyle whereas in someone who exercises regularly, it is produced in sufficient quantities. Most anti-depressants available act on stimulating Serotonin.

We are well aware that regular exercise is the best way to keep us healthy, both physically and mentally; now we have another reason to remain physically active – it keeps us psychologically and neurologically healthy as well. Exercise is an effective way to prevent or manage mild anxiety and depression.


In addition to exercising 30 minutes each day; 5 days a week, one must choose the activities which help to keep us happy and move us away from spending long intervals on the chair or the sofa. This way you will walk more and sit less. At times just standing up from a sitting position will motivate to walk around the house/ office.

Apart from several physical benefits, exercise imparts several mental benefits too such as

  • Boosts self – esteem and self confidence
  • Relaxes the mind
  • It helps one to think positively.

    Dr Shobha Ahuja, MBBS; FCGP, in family practice for over 30 years; is an ardent sportsperson; very active in inner wheel club; have presented papers at several conferences and writes regularly for consumers.

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

Leave a Reply