It is not a surprise that being active and exercising is greatly beneficial for one’s overall health and productivity. Countless research studies have found that sitting for long periods of time can cause numerous mental health issues aside from general physiological problems. This year due to Covid-19 a lot of shifting has occurred towards online business, online school, and just a lot of online activity in general. Sitting idle for extended periods can lead to depression, anxiety, chronic diseases, weight gain and other health issues and concerns.
A lot of students, especially medical students are affected by having to sit for several hours at a time since classes are now virtual. Medical students stay seated and study for eight or more hours in a day and now the fact that classes are virtual, the sitting time adds on.
There are many negative side effects from sitting for hours at a time. For example, staying seated for hours can slow down blood flow which can affect circulation in many parts of the body. Sitting also affects our brain by interfering with the normal growth of neurons which in turn affects brain health (Kowalski, 2021). Inactivity can decrease the number of cells your hippocampus is generating. Additionally, an extra hour of sitting per day increases the risk for depression (Kowalski, 2021). However, devoting one hour to physical activity daily can lead to a healthier brain and mindset, and it can lessen the chance of developing depression and anxiety.
Now, you might be thinking that you do not have time for physical activity as a medical student, but did you know that physical activity helps with memory? If time is an issue, try to incorporate your daily work with physical activity. Whether that is listening to a lecture while taking a walk or reviewing Anki cards on the treadmill, multitasking mental and physical exercise together can help alleviate stress while staying on top of your studies. It is infinitely helpful to get up and walk around for a happier mind.
As you move, your brain “moves” with you and generally, this is a win-win situation.
So the take home message here is to take short breaks often. Jump around, walk around, jog in place, stretch and just take a leap onto a better lifestyle. Challenge yourself to not be a couch potato, set daily alarms to stand up and move. By doing so, your mental health will thank you along with your body.
Kowalski, Kathiann. “Too Much Sitting Could Hurt Your Mental Health.” Science News for Students, 14 Apr. 2021, http://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/too-much-sitting-could-hurt-mental-health.
Image taken from https://www.magruderhospital.com/blog/the-importance-of-physical-activity-exercise