Moving is important when it comes to boosting your mental health.

It goes without saying that keeping active is an important step in maintaining both your physical and mental health. These days, even the smallest adjustments to your everyday routine can make a big impact as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Medical News Today reports. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, simply moving from the couch to your bed when you're ready to sleep or doing light housework is better for your health than sitting on the couch for hours on end. "With everything happening right now, this is one thing we can control or manage, and it has the potential to help our mental health," Jacob Meyer, the lead author for the study from Ohio State University, said.

woman smiling in her sleep
Credit: Getty / PeopleImages

The authors of the study found that about 75 percent of adults in the United States spend their days sitting still, which also includes 90 percent of leisure time. Following quarantine orders and lockdowns that took place across the country, the amount of movement in people's daily lives has dropped by a staggering 32 percent, and most Americans spent more time than ever before at home with their electronic devices. That's why researchers strongly recommend turning the television off before bed as a way to feel a little bit better. "It may be easier for people to change their behavior if they feel it's doable and doesn't require a major change," Meyer said.

Meyer and his fellow researchers dug into data from the 2010–2015 Energy Balance Study at the University of South Carolina to start their study. After studying the behavior of 423 participants between the ages of 21 and 35, they found that those who were sitting for long periods of time had experienced worsened moods and health.

That's why it's so important to get moving throughout the day. Whether you go for a walk while talking on the phone or swap some evening couch time for an hour spent doing an everyday activity, like cooking or cleaning, these minor habit changes can make a big difference on your mood. "People may not even think about some of these activities as physical activity," Meyer says. "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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