May 21,

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 passive video games.

Sedentary behaviour is associated with many negative health outcomes. All people are encouraged to “Sit less, Move more”. For many children/youth this means to Unplug and Play”.


For health benefits, youth aged 12-17 should minimize the time they spend being sedentary each day. This may be achieved by:

  • Limit recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day; lower levels are associated with additional health benefits.
  • Limit sedentary (motorized) transport, extended sitting and time spent indoors throughout the day.

Tips to help reduce sedentary time

  • Try to swap sedentary time with active time:
    • Active transportation to/from school instead of driving
    • Active living in the after school period instead of TV/computer/video games
    • Active family time in the evening instead of TV/computer/video games
  • Take short breaks to stand, walk around and stretch when you are being sedentary
    • During class – try to get up at least once to move yourself
    • Watching TV/movies – get up during commercials or at least once per hour to get moving a bit
    • Using a computer – watch the clock and make yourself get up and move around a bit every half hour or so.
  • Place clear limits on watching TV. Try to restrict viewing to a half-hour per day or one hour every other evening. Explain your rules in positive concrete terms. Try replacing “You can’t watch TV” with “Let’s turn off the TV so we can…”



Region of Waterloo Public Health,

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP),


Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Public Health,

Last modified on Feb 02, 2015