Can you be physically active and sedentary?

Yes is the answer.

Sedentary behaviour may seem like the opposite of physical activity, but it is an independent risk factor for certain chronic diseases and is therefore considered separately to physical activity, body weight, and diet.

It is especially important to discourage prolonged sedentary behaviour in children, since we know that sedentary behaviour increases with age, and a sedentary child is likely to become a sedentary adult (Biddle et al, 2010).

If you achieve 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week, but you also spend prolonged periods of time being sedentary every day, you can be considered both physically active and sedentary.

Tips for reducing sedentary behaviour

  • If you have a desk job, set an alarm to remind yourself to get up every hour. Simply walking to a water fountain or the photocopier can help.
  • Target the whole family (including parents, brothers and sisters) when trying to reduce sedentary behaviour among children or adolescents.
  • Ensure a reduction in one sedentary activity is not simply replaced by another (e.g. half an hour of television viewing is cut but replaced by computer use).
  • Encourage active transport to school/work.
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