Questions for “Too much sitting could hurt your mental health”

a photo of a curly-haired girl resting her arms on her knees and looking sad

Depression is quite common in teens. New data now point to a surprising risk factor: too much sitting around. The risk seems to be greater for sedentary activities that don’t challenge the mind.

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To accompany feature “Too much sitting could hurt your mental health


Before Reading:

1. What is a couch potato and what health impacts have been linked to this lifestyle?

2. How much exercise do you get in a day? What type is it?

­­During Reading:

1.  What three things did Jacob Barkley and his team find about activity levels in adults at Kent State after the coronavirus pandemic caused in-person classes to stop in spring 2020?

2.  What did one British study learn about how activity levels in teens during the time between when they are 12 and 18 years old?

3.  What did the Stockholm study show that suggests all sedentary activities are not alike?

4.  What was the potentially confusing part about the findings from the Norwegian study of teens and screen time?

5.  The story cites some suggestions for why sedentary activities might be bad for mental health. Name four of them.

6.  What brain changes were linked to a couch-potato lifestyle in this story?

7.  Can physically active people be sedentary, too?

8.  What did Mats Hallgren and others find about the benefits of brief interruptions in sitting?

After Reading:

1.  Make an hour-by-hour chart of how you spend a typical weekday and a typical weekend day during the school year. Chart how much time you spent sitting, standing, walking or engaged in more vigorous exercise. What were you doing during the most sedentary parts of the day? Think back to such typical days before the coronavirus pandemic and compare your activity levels now to that. How much has it changed and in what ways?

2.  Chart when you are most sedentary in a typical school day (from morning to night). Make a list of four recommendations for how you might break up those periods of sitting. Now describe what you might do to encourage yourself to act on any or all of those recommendations.