If you spend most of your day at home sitting, try taking a nap and schedule a workout. Research has found that this will help boost your mood…

Anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic and being stuck at home can take its toll on your health and wellbeing. Fortunately, there are two simple ways to boost your mood – sleep and exercise.

New research, published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that substituting prolonged sedentary time with sleep was associated with lower stress, better mood and lower body mass index (BMI), and substituting light physical activity was associated with improved mood and lower BMI across the next year.

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Jacob Meyer, lead author and assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, says that light activity can include walking around your home office while talking on the phone or standing while preparing dinner.

“People may not even think about some of these activities as physical activity,” says Meyer. “Light activity is much lower intensity than going to the gym or walking to work, but taking these steps to break up long periods of sitting may have an impact.”

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Lower body fat benefit

Meyer and colleagues used data collected as part of the Energy Balance Study at the University of South Carolina in which study participants, ranging in age from 21 to 35, wore an armband that tracked their energy expenditure for 10 days.

In addition to the benefits of sleep and light physical activity, the researchers found moderate to vigorous activity was associated with lower body fat and BMI.

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Small, manageable changes

Given the negative health effects of prolonged sedentary time, Meyer says that the findings may encourage people to make small changes that are sustainable.

“It may be easier for people to change their behaviour if they feel it’s doable and doesn’t require a major change,” Meyer said. “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.”

Getting more sleep is another relatively simple change to make. Instead of staying up late watching TV, going to bed earlier and getting up at a consistent time provides multiple benefits and allows your body to recover, Meyer said. Sleeping is also unique in that it is time you’re not engaging in other potentially problematic behaviours, such as eating junk food while sitting in front of a screen.

Something we can control

Making these subtle changes was associated with a better current mood, but light physical activity also provided benefits for up to a year, the study found.

While the research was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Meyer says that the results are timely given the growing mental health concerns during this time of physical distancing.

“With everything happening right now, this is one thing we can control or manage and it has the potential to help our mental health,” says Meyer.

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Source: Iowa State University via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.