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Being a couch potato is bad for your health. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity are all associated with a lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle. A new study shows that young men who have experience depression early in life are more vulnerable than women at developing a permanent sedentary lifestyle, with a lot of that time spent sitting in front of a computer.
The study tracked 761 adults as they aged over four years. The patients were initially identified as having depression around age 20. They were asked to track how much time they spent sitting in front of a computer or playing video games for four years. When they were 24, the results were accumulated and researchers found striking differences between the men and women.
“We started out with the idea that early depression might alter turn everyone into couch potatoes, just sitting around glued to the TV or a computer screen,” noted Dr. Nancy Low, of McGill’s Department of Psychiatry and author. “But what we didn’t expect was to see such a clear difference between what men and women were doing.” Men spend four more hours than women. But the average for both is alarming: 21 hours per week or over three hours a day looking at the computer or TV. More alarming: this does not include smart phone time.
“This study signals that young men who have been depressed are more likely than young women to become trapped in a vicious cycle where depression later leads to more sedentary behavior which in turn may contribute to later health problems that also include depression,” explained Dr. Low. “What we need to do is figure out how best to intervene early in the process. And one of the things we’re looking into now is how that online time, and things like mobile apps, can best be used to help young people deal with their depression and become more physically active.”
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