Swapping out video games or binge watching your favorite show for an early night can have a great impact on your mental and physical health, according to new research. Opting for a longer night’s sleep over sedentary activities can be beneficial to your stress levels, mood, and even BMI. That’s according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM), which has suggested some simple ways to substitute sedentary time for light activity, which can help beat the lockdown blues.
These findings may come as a welcome message for those struggling with mental wellbeing after being at home for many months. Although the study emphasizes that more vigorous physical activity (we’re talking exercise bikes and running on treadmills here) will see higher payoffs in terms of your BMI and physical health, ‘psychological health (mood, stress) benefits may occur from subtler alterations that increase light physical activity or sleep duration in healthy young adults.’
- Substituting light physical exercise for sedentary time reduced BMI and improved mood across the subsequent year on those surveyed.
- Psychological health (mood, stress) benefits may occur from subtle alterations, including more sleep.
- U.S. adults spend 75% of their waking hours and 90% of their leisure time sedentary.
According to the study, “psychological health could be improved by more sleep or greater energy expenditure” - no wonder sleep features in our guide on how to stay healthy and feel happy when working from home.
In fact, when speaking to Top Ten Reviews and answering some of the more common coronavirus questions, registered healthcare professional Dr Gero Bairdo had this to say about how vital it is to maintain a sleep routine during lockdown (and beyond): “It is important to keep regular hours regardless of whether we are going into work in the morning. Getting enough good quality sleep each night protects and boosts our immunity, and will not be facilitated by staying up bingeing on box sets until the early hours.” What you sleep on also makes a difference, so take a look at our guide to the best mattress online too.
Simple ways to beat a sedentary lifestyle
When it comes to seeing an improvement in physical health we will need to turn to higher-intensity activity, according to the AJPM. We all know that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor health and wellbeing, but for many of those in lockdown it’s been an inevitability in recent months. Research has shown that 42% are exercising at home during lockdown, but we’re also spending more time seated than before due to a lack of time spent commuting and doing other activities outside of the house, such as shopping and meeting with friends.
90% of the average American’s leisure time is spent being sedentary, but there are ways to keep moving without even realizing it, according to the AJPM. One such activity is housework. That’s right, light housework such as disinfecting your door handles or cleaning kitchen counters is a simple way to get your blood pumping and spend some time on your feet.
According to Medical News Today, adding some movement to your day could be as simple as walking around when you take a phone call, or taking the time to cook something while standing. Although the end result may not be so good for your waistline, swapping out the stand mixer and beating your cake batter by hand is certainly one way to inject some physical activity into your day, which can have an uplifting effect on your general mental wellbeing.
If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, we spoke to a psychologist about how to manage anxiety and feel happier, and have also rounded-up the best meditation apps for mental health and better sleep.
For further mental health resources, we recommend the following: