Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Science finally reveals why sitting at a computer all day is exhausting

girls hbo shoshana.jpg

We all know that irresistible feeling of wanting to faceplant our sofa after a long, strenuous day at the office.

But it can often feel like a bit of a cheat to be so exhausted after a day filled almost entirely with sitting – after all, our sedate office jobs rarely demand anything physical of us.

Happily, however, science seems to have found an explanation for that weary, bone-tired feeling that often accompanies a stressful day spent sitting at our desks – and it’s all down to a phenomenon called “mental fatigue”.

Just as exhausting as exercise, mental fatigue can wipe us out entirely, with overworking our brains for an extended period of time often being just as draining as going for a long run.

woman exercise

Mental fatigue can be just as exhausting as physical fatigue

And mental fatigue is so exhausting because our body’s response to a mentally taxing task, such as feeling stressed, is the same as its response to a physically taxing task.

Read more: How to pull yourself out of an exercise rut

“Your heart will pump and you’ll produce adrenaline whether somebody’s chasing you, or you’re just really upset about something,”  Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of sleep medicine at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told The Cut.

woman at work

Our bodies have the same response to stress and physical exercise

The phenomenon can also be linked to our brains, which use a disproportionately high amount of our body’s energy supplies.

“Your muscles normally aren’t sucking a lot of oxygen out of you,” Feinsilver adds. “With exercise, they will. But the brain always takes a lot of your energy.”

So, rest assured the next time you cancel your plans because a day of sitting has worn you out – science has got your back.

Images: iStock / HBO



How to retrain your mind in moments of chronic stress


BBC ever so politely shuts down backlash over first female Doctor Who

airbnb treehouse.PNG

This magical treehouse is the most popular Airbnb listing ever


“Why I opted out of reconstruction after my double mastectomy”

Breast cancer survivor Jeanne Paul says many don’t understand her choice

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

Carpool Karaoke gets a Game of Thrones makeover

The Starks are in town

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

How the solar eclipse could completely transform your life

An astrologer tells us how to tap into the ‘magical powers’ of tonight’s eclipse

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

Lidl is selling £3.33 bottles of prosecco – but there’s a catch

Bring on the bubbles

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Singer stops concert to expertly shame man for sexual assault

“It is not your f**king body and you do not f**king grab at someone!”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Aug 2017

Why that Game of Thrones infertility storyline is so very important

This article contains spoilers, obviously

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

“I’m child-free, not childless – why the difference matters”

One writer on how our language shames women who choose not to procreate

21 Aug 2017

High school boys support female students against sexist dress code

And this is how it’s done

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Why people are posting cat photos in response to the Barcelona attacks

There’s a reason behind the influx of felines online

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017