Sedentary behaviour: the basics



Say what?! Sedentary is not exclusive to chilling on the couch munching on chips and watching Friends on TV for the 1000th time. The guilt we feel from watching Netflix for five hours straight does not occur when we study for three hours straight. Yet what people do not realise is that the effects of both activities are the same. I will explore in further posts about the short term but also long term, even life-threatening effects, of sitting down for long periods of time, whether that be poor posture, reduced productivity or increased risk of diabetes. But for now, what is sedentary behaviour?

More specifically, it is characterised by an energy expenditure of less than 1.5 of metabolic equivalents (MET). MET are used to measure physical activity, where one MET is equivalent to the calories burnt while sitting. The figure below indicates what type of activity is ranked based on their metabolic equivalents. Please note these do not necessarily account for different levels of fitness. See how standing is almost equivalent to the lower end of light physical activity (more about this in later weeks).


Sedentary behaviour is inevitable in our everyday lives.


Even when we feel like we are slaving away at the library studying for hours or grinding through work at the office all day, despite what feels like hard work, we are actually being sedentary. This is not to say we should be standing all of our waking hours, but it is commonplace to be sitting for four hours at a time. Studies for decades have shown the threat of sitting way too long at one time and the evidence has continued to grow due to the new social landscape, including our time spent looking at screens – which are normally when we are sitting or lying down.

Thankfully, the solution is very simple. We simply encourage you just do stand up every hour or half hour and walk around for a few minutes! We will have posts dedicated to tips and tricks to get yourself standing more, whether that be in your room or on the train!

Tune in for tomorrow’s blog post to find out how sedentary you ARE and why seats have been dubbed the silent killer.

Want to learn more?

*Images courtesy of Freepik and Canva.

5 thoughts on “Sedentary behaviour: the basics

  1. I actually feel like I’m very conscious of how sedentary most of my days during the week are while I’m at uni, often only exercising properly of an afternoon or early morning, yet during the day I don’t do much about it. So much of work and learning at school and universities these days revolves around sitting in a classroom!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also feel conscious about sitting for prolonged periods of time whilst studying! I try to go for a 15 minute walk around campus every hour to avoid sedentary behaviour. Walking also seems to help with my ability to remain focused when I resume studying!


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