This daily habit could increase risk of depression in teenagers

This is important...
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • A simple daily habit could be linked to depression in teenagers, according to new study.

    Spending too long sitting down everyday could be linked to depression, a study has suggested.

    Research published in the Lancet Psychiatry suggests that an additional hour of light activity (including walking or doing chores) is linked to a reduction in depression in teenagers.

    The findings were based on data collected by researchers at University College London (UCL) from over 4,000 young people. These participants wore accelerometers to track their movement.

    The team discovered that an additional 60 minutes of light activity at age 12 was associated with a 10 per cent reduction in depressive symptoms at 18.

    Senior study author Dr Joseph Hayes commented on this, saying, “Light activity could be particularly useful because it doesn’t require much effort and it’s easy to fit into the daily routines of most young people.”

    “Schools could integrate light activity into their pupils’ days, such as with standing or active lessons. Small changes to our environments could make it easier for all of us to be a little bit less sedentary.”


    Credit: Getty Images

    An increased use of digital devices like smartphones, games consoles and laptops indicate that physical activity is declining amongst adolescents, even if it’s just light exercise such as going for a walk.

    When it comes to work or school, many of us spend a lot of our days sitting down at a desk to work, meaning finding time to exercise can be a challenge.

    Study lead Aaron Kandola said, “We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial.”


    Credit: Getty Images

    In addition to this, Trinity College Dublin professor Dr Brendan Kelly revealed that some teenagers are put off by sports due to the fact they’re competitive and they feel they’re being judged.

    But he stressed that people don’t suddenly need to become sporty overnight, and that any physical activity can be positive. Dr Kelly said, “This research says that light and moderate activity also has demonstrable benefits for mental health.

    He added, “In other words, adolescents don’t necessarily need to win medals at school sports days or be on the school’s number one rugby team. They just need to sit down less.”

    He also suggested that parents should ‘lead by example’ and encourage children to be more active during the day.

    Dr Kelly said, “We are all creatures of habit, so we should integrate more light physical activity into everyday routines, for us and for our children.”