May 25,

Sedentary Behaviour

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Sedentary Behaviour

What is sedentary behaviour?

Sedentary behaviour is any activity that requires very little movement and is often done sitting or lying down. These activities include watching television, using a computer, sitting in a motor vehicle and playing video games.

While physical activity decreases your risk for many chronic diseases, sedentary activities increase your risk. Even for individuals who are “active” and meet their weekly physical activity guidelines, high levels of sedentary behaviour are associated with negative health outcomes.

While formal sedentary guidelines for adults have not been developed yet, research suggests that after sitting for 60 minutes, we should get up, stretch and move for at least 1-3 minutes. This is particularly important to keep in mind for those who work at a job that keeps them sedentary for much of their day.

“Sit less, Move more

Tips to help reduce sedentary time


  • Walk or take public transit whenever you can, as opposed to driving
  • Take frequent, short breaks from sitting. Breaks as short as standing or moving for 1–3 minutes can be beneficial
  • Walk around while you are talking on the phone

At work (especially desk jobs):

  • Take regular desk breaks to reduce sitting time while you are at work


  • Walk to a central office waste basket or recycle container
  • Stand up and move every time you have a drink of water
  • Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling them
  • Have walking meetings or take standing breaks during meetings
  • Use a standing desk, if one is available, or sit on an exercise/therapy ball instead of an office chair

Free time:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend sitting – watching TV, using a computer, reading, etc.
  • Stand, rather than sit, on the sidelines while watching recreational games


Region of Waterloo Public Health,

Canadian Cancer Society,

American College of Sports Medicine,

Last modified on Feb 02, 2015