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Evidence suggests a link between sedentary behaviours and depressive
symptoms. Mechanisms underlying this relationship are not understood, but
inflammatory processes may be involved. Autonomic and inflammatory
responses to stress may be heightened in sedentary individuals
contributing to risk, but no study has experimentally investigated
To examine the effect of sedentary time on mood and stress responses
using an experimental design.
Forty-three individuals were assigned to a free-living sedentary
condition and to a control condition (usual activity) in a cross-over,
randomised fashion and were tested in a psychophysiology laboratory after
spending 2 weeks in each condition. Participants completed mood
questionnaires (General Health Questionnaire and Profile of Mood States)
and wore a motion sensor for 4 weeks.
Sedentary time increased by an average of 32 min/day (P
= 0.01) during the experimental condition compared with control. Being
sedentary resulted in increases in negative mood independent of changes
in moderate to vigorous physical activity (δGHQ= 6.23, δPOMS= 2.80). Mood
disturbances were associated with greater stress-induced inflammatory
interleukin-6 (IL-6) responses (β = 0.37).
Two weeks of exposure to greater free-living sedentary time resulted in
mood disturbances independent of reduction in physical activity.
Stress-induced IL-6 responses were associated with changes in mood.
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