Spending too much time sitting down can be bad for your health, but replacing sedentary time with extra sleep or more activity can do wonders for a person’s mood.
According to researchers from Iowa State University, consumers can boost their mood by swapping time spent sitting with time spent sleeping or engaging light physical activity. As an added bonus, those who choose the latter option can also reap physical health benefits.
“It may be easier for people to change their behavior if they feel it’s doable and doesn’t require a major change,” said researcher Jacob Meyer. “Replacing sedentary time with housework or other light activities is something they may be able to do more consistently than going for an hour-long run.”
To understand how sleep and light activity can boost consumers’ mood and physical wellness, the researchers analyzed data from the Energy Balance Study at the University of South Carolina.
The researchers evaluated data from over 400 young adults wearing devices that tracked their sleep, physical activity, and time spent sitting over the course of 10 days. There were no added interventions -- participants went about their daily routines as they typically would.
The study revealed that consumers can make subtle changes to their daily routine and see noticeable changes in their mood and stress levels. Participants who slept more -- rather than spending long periods of time sitting down -- noted improvements to their overall mood and energy levels.
While many consumers struggle with keeping a consistent sleep schedule, or can’t escape the glare from their phones or TVs throughout the nighttime hours, the researchers emphasized just how many benefits are associated with adopting better sleeping habits and getting better, more restful sleep.
Moreover, adding in light exercise, which the researchers explained can be something as simple as taking a phone call while walking around the house, yielded similar results. These participants were not only in better emotional states, but they also saw improvements to their body mass indices (BMIs).
“People may not even think about some of these activities as physical activity,” said Meyer. “Light activity is much lower intensity than going to the gym or walking to work, but taking these steps to break up long periods of sitting may have an impact.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced consumers to be home more than ever, it’s the perfect time to adopt little habits that can bring some joy and levity to the daily routine.
“With everything happening right now, this is one thing we can control or manage and it has the potential to help our mental health,” said Meyer.