Sedentary behavior and depression among adults: a review

Int J Behav Med. 2010 Dec;17(4):246-54. doi: 10.1007/s12529-010-9075-z.


Background: Physically inactive lifestyles and sedentary behaviors (SB) are key contributors to ill health. Although the association between SB (e.g., watching TV/using the computer) and physical health has been well documented, increasing research has focused on the possible link between SB and mental health (e.g., depression).

Purpose: This review aims to investigate the effect of SB on the risk of depression in adults.

Method: A systematic search for original research articles investigating associations between SB and depression in adults was performed using the several electronic data bases.

Results: A total of seven observational and four intervention studies were included in this review. All observational studies found positive associations between SB and risk of depression, while intervention studies showed contradictory results.

Conclusion: Evidence for the relationship between SB and risk of depression in adults is limited by methodological weaknesses. However, on balance, this review suggests that SB is associated with an increased risk of depression. Further studies are needed assessing different types of SB and depression; the interrelationship between physical activity, SB, and depression; causal links between SB and depression; and intervention strategies aimed at reducing SB and their effects on risk of depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*