Sedentary Behaviour

Original Editor - Lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Sedentary behaviour(SB) refers to “any waking behaviour characterised by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture”. Many adults spend roughly 9–10 h/day engaging in sedentary behaviours. Given this level of exposure, an understanding of its relationship with health outcomes is vital for the general public.[1]


Risky Behaviour[edit | edit source]

Seated office work, a sedentary behaviour

Excess SB is a risky behaviour. It has many adverse health effects, for example: elevated all-cause mortality; cardiovascular disease mortality; cancer risk; risks for metabolic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, musculoskeletal diseases (eg knee pain and osteoporosis) and mental health problems. The negative health impacts escalate with increases in the total daily sedentary times. For this reason, it is important to reduce the SB.[2]

Sedentary Behaviour vs Physical Inactivity[edit | edit source]

iphone use, may lead to increased SB

SBs are considered conceptually distinct from physical inactivity, with the latter meaning performing insufficient amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to meet current physical activity recommendations.[3]A person may engage in recommended time of PA, but be too sedentary in the remaining hours, adversely affecting health. eg A person may jog for 50 minutes daily, and engage in SB the rest of the day.

WHO Guidelines[edit | edit source]

Health risk?

The WHO 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour give new advice on sedentary behaviour and its interrelationships with physical activity. They provide a broader set of behavioural targets to help improve population health, aiming to limit sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity among those who need it most. These new sedentary behaviour guidelines hopefully will elicit more targeted research in this area and be a stimulus for more system-wide policies, programs, and initiatives to help improve global health.[3]

See WHO Physical activity guidelines here

Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

A dog to decrease SB?

Physical activity is essential for a healthy life and spending the majority of the day being sedentary is dangerous.

Standing desk

Physiotherapists are well positioned to advise people on healthy lifestyle choices. Examples being

  • Encourage clients to make physical activity a part of daily life during all stages of life
  • Reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary.
  • Stand on public transport
  • Encourager active transport eg cycling
  • Walk/walk part way to work
  • Walk during lunch breaks and/or breaks
  • Stand up every 30 minutes when working at a desk
  • Use a standing desk or ask the workplace to provide one
  • Increase the manual chores done around the house
  • Walk around when taking phone calls
  • Join community/friend activity groups in free time rather than watching television or playing video games
  • Get a dog and walk regularly
  • Take the stairs instead of using the elevator
  • Use an exercise bike in office/living room

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Saunders TJ, McIsaac T, Douillette K, Gaulton N, Hunter S, Rhodes RE, Prince SA, Carson V, Chaput JP, Chastin S, Giangregorio L. Sedentary behaviour and health in adults: an overview of systematic reviews. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2020;45(10):S197-217.Available: (accessed 10.10.2022)
  2. Park JH, Moon JH, Kim HJ, Kong MH, Oh YH. Sedentary lifestyle: overview of updated evidence of potential health risks. Korean journal of family medicine. 2020 Nov;41(6):365. Available: 10.10.2022)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dempsey PC, Biddle SJ, Buman MP, Chastin S, Ekelund U, Friedenreich CM, Katzmarzyk PT, Leitzmann MF, Stamatakis E, van der Ploeg HP, Willumsen J. New global guidelines on sedentary behaviour and health for adults: broadening the behavioural targets. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2020 Dec;17(1):1-2.Available: (accessed 10.10.2022)