Startling Data on Sedentary Behavior

By Ryan Halvorson
Apr 14, 2016

Despite increasingly widespread knowledge of the benefits and importance of regular physical activity, a new study from Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, finds that the message isn’t sinking in.

The study focused on 293 individuals aged 19–90 who were fitted with electronic activity devices over a 7-day period. Data from the devices was used to determine how active the subjects were during typical waking hours.

The participants spent about two-thirds of that time either sitting or lying down.

Women tended to be less sedentary than men throughout the weekend; however, sedentary behavior was fairly similar among men and women on weekdays.

“Our study found that most adults simply aren’t moving, and that’s because many of our jobs are done in a seated position while working at a computer or something similar,” said study author Alex Montoye, PhD, a clinical exercise physiology professor in BSU’s Human Performance Laboratory. “At the same time, much of our leisure time is often spent in front of a screen, such as for TV, social media and smart phones.”

Montoye also pointed out that a daily workout doesn’t quite cut it.

“Just because a person exercises for a half hour or hour every day doesn’t just mean they can be sedentary the rest of the time,” he explained. “We have to get up and get moving throughout the day to maintain good health.”

The BSU team suggested that adjusting daily behaviors, like standing up when speaking on the phone or visiting a co-worker’s desk instead of sending her an email, can lead to positive results.

The study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2015; doi: 10.1249 MSS.0000000000000828).

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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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