How Being a ‘Couch Potato’ Can Be Linked to Increased Anxiety Risks

Live Well Guest Blog Post by Sarah Biel

Not many people are aware that being a couch potato can alter the structure of the brain and the shape of neurons which potentially causes damage to the heart and can be detrimental to your mental health.  Several studies have been carried out on links between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms on people that use computers, watch TV and play computer games for lengthy periods of time. Although studies are inconclusive, researchers have defined a positive link between sitting for long periods and the risk of anxiety.couch potato

Systematic reviews have suggested that the less people move around the higher the risk of developing anxiety symptoms are. There is also a debate with regards to demonstrate cause and effect: do people with anxiety symptoms spend more time sitting or do people displaying sedentary behavior cause anxiety symptoms? To datem, researchers have mostly only looked at anxiety symptoms and not the diagnosis of anxiety.

Recent studies carried out at universities have suggested that being a couch potato is not as relaxing as people believe, and sitting for long periods of time can actually increase anxiety and stress levels. Studies showed that sedentary adults in particular presented with chronic health issues that included diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Being a couch potato means you are not only slowly killing yourself, but also increasing the chances of developing nervous disorders.

How Being a Couch Potato Damages Your Body

When sitting on a couch or in an office for more than six hours a day, it can be detrimental to your health in more ways than one. Here are some disturbing facts that should be taken seriously:

  • There is a 64% chance of increasing heart disease especially in people that are obese, drink and/or smoke
  • Quality of life is minimized by up to seven years
  • Such people are usually at a higher risk for certain types of cancer
  • Increased anxiety risks and depression

The minute you sit down, muscle electrical activity slows down and the burning of calories drops to 1 cal/min. Sitting for long periods over time will reduce glucose uptake in insulin which can lead to type 2 diabetes. In addition, the muscles start atrophying and maximum oxygen levels drop. Women in particular may experience weight gain, bone mass loss and high cholesterol. People that are inclined to suffer from depression are more prone to experiencing anxiety episodes.

Those of you that watch TV every day need to consider how TV affects your thinking and your emotions. Television programs and movies can also have a detrimental negative psychological impact and cause one to feel sad and anxious. Watching television for hours on end and incorporating as part of your culture can interfere with your energy and concentration levels.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

People suffering from emotional anxiety may experience feelings of apprehension, restlessness and lack of concentration. Other symptoms include feeling irritable, jumpy and tense, and on occasions the mind goes blank. Couch potato anxiety disorders differ from person to person. However, all anxiety disorders present with persistent worry or fear in situations where most people would not feel threatened. Anxiety attacks usually occur without warning or can be triggered by a particular situation. Attacks peak within 10 minutes and last around 30 minutes. 

Physical anxiety symptoms may include excessive sweating or chills and palpitations or chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness and upset stomach. Other common symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, twitches and tremors and can also be present with diarrhea and/or frequent urination.

How to Control Being a Couch Potato

No matter how lazy one is, being a couch potato can be controlled. There are only two exercises you need to do to reverse the effects of sitting all day:

  • Stand up and walk around after every hour—this will alleviate most of the problems mentioned above.
  • Take a 30 minute break and either do some cycling, walk up or dawn a flight of stairs or something which will alleviate stress and tension and help increase your endurance. You should sustain an activity for long enough which will make it useful in your daily life.

Once you focus your mindset  and alter your behavior pattern, you will be able to meet your daily activity target with ease.  When sitting and watching your favorite TV programs, consider the commercial breaks as a chance to stand up and stretch. No matter if you are playing a board game or sitting behind your computer, stand up and walk around as opposed to just sitting and turning your mind off.


Sitting or laying in the same place for four hours or more watching TV or working long hours behind a computer screen with no physical activity can turn you into a couch potato. Sedentary behavior of this nature creates an increased risk of anxiety attacks.  Studies have shown that long hours of sitting and binge TV viewing are linked to slow metabolism and social detachment which in turn leads to increased stress and chronic anxiety levels.

Anxiety can be prevented and controlled by adopting a healthy and physically active lifestyle. Avoiding situations that can turn you into a couch potato will most definitely keep anxiety and stress levels in check.


Sarah Biel- Health and Lifestyle Expert at Sukhavati

Sarah Biel is a popular well recognized health and lifestyle expert. Sarah is well qualified in her field and is passionate about the well being, and mental state of her clients. Sarah works at Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa which offers life changing treatments based on ancient healing practices.

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