Impact of replacing sedentary behaviour with other movement behaviours on depression and anxiety symptoms

1. In a cohort of adults from the UK, replacing sedentary behaviour with moderate-to-vigorous activity was associated with decreased anxiety and depression symptoms.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Sedentary behaviour levels, such as sitting or lying down, have been shown to increase in recent years. Some studies have demonstrated that high sedentary behaviour is a risk factor for depression and anxiety in adults, however, results are inconsistent. This prospective cohort study aimed to determine the association between accelerometer-derived sedentary behaviour and depression and anxiety symptoms. 60, 235 participants were included in the study (56% female, mean age [SD], 55.9 [7.7] years). The primary outcomes measured were the continuous symptom scores on the PHQ-9 and GAD-7, which are validated tools used to measure depression and anxiety, respectively. Baseline time in sedentary behaviours was positively associated with depression (β = 0.49; 95% CI, 0.44–0.54; p < 0.001) and anxiety (β = 0.37; 95% CI, 0.31–0.44; p < 0.001) symptom scores. The study found that replacing 60 minutes of sedentary behaviour with 60 minutes of light activity, moderate-to-vigorous activity, and sleep in a 24-hour period was associated with lower depression symptoms scores by 1.3% (95% CI, 0.4–2.1%), 12.5% (95% CI, 11.4–13.5%), and 7.6% (95% CI, 6.9–8.4%), respectively. Replacing 60 minutes of sedentary behaviour with moderate-to-vigorous activity and sleep was associated with lower anxiety symptom scores by 6.6% (95% CI, 5.5–7.6%), and 4.5% (95% CI, 3.7–5.2%). However, replacing it with 60 minutes of light activity was associated with higher anxiety symptom scores by 4.5% (95% CI, 3.7%–5.3%). Thus, the study concluded that although moderate-to-vigorous activity is associated with decreased anxiety and depression symptoms, the effects of light activity did not demonstrate the same advantages. Given the mixed findings and the study’s limited generalizability, more research is needed to establish this conclusion.

Click to read the study in BMC Medicine

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