We have all heard enough about the harms that a sedentary lifestyle and constant sitting causes to our health. If you have been someone who found it difficult to include physical activity in your routines over sitting steady, here is an alternative – sleep. A new study has found that replacing sedentary sitting with sleeping could lead to health benefits such as lower levels of stress and BMI, and improved mood.
The team of researchers used data from the Energy Balance Study at the University of South Carolina to analyze how replacing sitting with light physical activity or sleep can affect our health. It involved 423 participants, healthy adults between the ages of 20-35 years, whose around-the-clock activity was tracked with the aid of armbands they wore.
While several studies in the past have pointed out the benefits of physical activity in the past, the recent paper links moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to lower levels of BMI and body fat percentage. On the other hand, it brings to light that light physical activity or subtle changes to the sitting routine could aid psychological changes such as better mood and lower stress levels. Sleep was also found to positively impact BMI.
“It may be easier for people to change their behavior if they feel it’s doable and doesn’t require a major change,” said Jacob Meyer, lead author and assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. “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.”
The authors suggest that even small but sustainable changes to a sedentary routine could help reap some health benefits. Light activity could start with walking while talking on the phone or taking breaks to stand up. Sleep also helps curb unhealthy behaviors such as binge-eating or watching TV till late, which in turn helps us build a healthier routine.
The results of this study have been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.