Here's an interesting scientific article I came across recently that highlights the link between increased anxiety and low energy activities that involve a lot of sitting. Researchers actually studied the results of nine separate studies that explored the relationship between anxiety and "sedentary behavior" - things like watching television, computer use, sitting while on transportation, and work-related sitting. In short, the majority of those independent studies found a significant increase in anxiety risk as people spent more time sitting.
One of the research team's next steps is to identify why that link exists, but they do have some theories, including disturbances in sleep patterns, social withdrawal theory and poor metabolic health. Any or all of those mechanisms make sense to me. I know that when I really struggled with anxiety, if I didn't sleep well, my anxiety was a bit higher the next day (this is normal, when the body is tired it actually releases more stress hormones, aka energy, to help you stay awake), which of course made me anxious that I wouldn't sleep well the next night - a fun (but not really) little feedback loop. The poor metabolic health explanation is just suggesting that when we spend a lot of time sitting, we probably don't exercise enough or eat well enough, and that may lead to changes in our metabolism and nutrient intake that affects our mood and mental health. The third potential explanation, social withdrawal theory, is a fancy name for habitually opting to hang out at home on the couch instead of interacting with family and friends; relationships fall by the wayside and we don't have a support network to lean on when trials and tribulations come our way.
Whether its just one of these reasons or a combination of all of them, sitting down too much is related to increased anxiety. So if you're struggling with panic attacks or anxiety, make sure you get up and start moving around. Of course, when you're in that state, leaving your house or moving around or even standing up may be a little extra scary. But as I tell all my clients, moving around and expending some of that nervous energy helps us come down from that heightened anxious state. Go for a walk, check the mail, vacuum, mow the lawn, cook dinner, any and all movement counts!