What is Sedentary Behavior?

What is sedentary behavior - woman lying on couch watching TV

Sedentary behavior is your conscious choice to be physically inactive. It’s the unhealthy habit of sitting down to watch videos or scroll through social media. You engage in sedentary behavior whenever you sit, recline, or lay down while awake. 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

According to Physical Activity Guidelines, sedentary behavior accounts for more than half (55%) of Americans’ waking hours. Children and adults spend nearly 8 hours per day being sedentary.

Health Risks of Sedentary Behavior

The health risks of sedentary behavior depend on the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity you perform. The figure shows the relationship between Daily Sitting time and Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity. Your risk of all-cause mortality decreases from red to green as you increase your physical activity.  

People who spend lots of time sitting (sedentary behavior) can offset their mortality risk by increasing their physical activity. To offset your mortality risk, Guidelines recommend:

  • 60 to 75 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activities or
  • 30 to 40 minutes per day of vigorous-intensity activities

Otherwise, your mortality risk will increase as time spent sitting increases. If you are a person who sits down at work 8 hours a day, you need physical activity to reduce your mortality risk. Big Weight Loss recommends you take 20-minute brisk walks, three times per day. 

Health Risk of Sedentary Behavior figure

Any Physical Activity Is Better Than None

Any amount of physical activity is better than inactivity. Please do whatever you can, no matter how little it may seem. All physical activities add up. Here are some tips to increase your physical activity:

  • Park further away from the entrance so you can walk farther
  • Fill the shopping cart with the heaviest items first, so pushing it is more work
  • Instead of paying to have your lawn mowed, do it yourself
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Big Weight Loss recommends you start slow and build up over time. You could begin by walking for 5 minutes. Over time you can progress to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, and finally 20 minutes. Learn about Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults and discover the health benefits of physical activity.

Woman over 40 walking happy


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