Regardless of Activity Sedentary Behavior is Dangerous

Posted by Daniel Patrick on

Imagine spending 15 hours a day off of your feet without movement or physical activity. That is what the average American adolescent is doing each day if you count 7 hours of sleep and 8.2 total sedentary hours (tv, computer, etc).

Leaving sleep out of this conversation, we turn to Sedentary Behavior which could be defined as, "any waking behavior characterized by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture." This can be visualized using the Energy Expenditure Continuum graphic below by the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network.

Even athletes should be wary of the health effects of sedentary behavior.

"Numerous studies suggest that regardless of your level of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity high amounts of sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of disease and death." This according to a cited letter to the editor in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 

One could argue that the human body and spirit were not made to sit eight hours per day without physical activity. How do you spend your day?

Evidence from a recent study published in JAMA reveals high levels of sedentary behavior among Americans of all age groups remain high with increases observed in adult and adolescent sitting.

Should you be more concerned with mental health then we have you covered and refer you to this brief article in Science Daily that highlights findings of a UCLA suggesting sedentary behavior also leads to thinning of an area of the brain important to memory.

If you are contemplating how to decrease sedentary behavior and physical inactivity then movement is your friend and movement is the enemy of inactivity. Health.gov provides common sense tips for workplace and daily life activity (movement) in this article.

A Canadian organization, CSEP,  also has helpful guidelines for An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep in a 24- hour period individualized for age groups too! I highly recommend visiting their site

I always use the example given to me by my high school anatomy teacher when she talked about a man who got sick of being sick. He changed his habits a little bit at a time to become 'half the man' he used to be by shedding 200 pounds. It all started with a short walk to the mailbox. It was an action taken deliberately that built a mindset to put a little more movement into your everyday life. First it was the mailbox, then the street, the block, the park, and thought became action, action became a habit, habit reinforced over and over became character. 


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