Sedentary Behaviour

Definition of Sedentary Behaviour

Prolonged sitting or lounging such as commuting in a personal vehicle, sitting at a computer, sitting on the couch, sitting at a desk.


What’s the Problem?

Over the past few decades, evidence proves that levels of physical activity among Canadians has declined significantly. Canadians are also spending long periods of time sitting, which has negative health effects. Why so much sitting? There are several key reasons. Since the 1970s, the amount of desk jobs have increased. Additionally, Canadians recreational screen time use has increased dramatically. These trends contribute to long bouts of sitting. The negative health effects associated with these behaviours increases our risk for chronic diseases such as certain types of cancers, type II diabetes, heart disease and other metabolic dysfunctions. There are also risks of musculoskeletal injuries with sedentary behaviour.


Sedentary Behaviour vs. Physical Inactivity

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend Canadians over the age of 18 years achieve 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity per week. However, a person can meet these guidelines but still be considered sedentary if they spend most of their day sitting or lounging. Our way of life continues to evolve to minimize human movement.


What Can We Do?

SIT LESS AND MOVE MORE! Reducing and breaking up sitting time is beneficial to health. Simple, low-intensity activities such as standing, walking, taking the stairs, and stretching, done intermittently throughout the day is just as beneficial to your health as structured exercise! Here are some additional tips to reduce your sedentary behaviour at work, home and school:

  • Actively commute to work (walk, bike etc.)
  • Empty your desk garbage or recycling yourself
  • Set a desk-top timer to remind you to move more every hour
  • Stand when you’re on the phone or when someone enters your work space to talk to you
  • Use the furthest bathroom
  • Park farther away from the building
  • Eat your lunch away from your desk
  • Go for a walk
  • Try an active break
  • Try a walking or standing meeting


Have you Heard about The Less Sitting is Better Campaign?!

Are you looking for a workplace campaign? Are you looking to raise awareness regarding the health effects of prolonged sitting or lounging?  Interested in raising awareness about sedentary behaviour in adults and how they can counter prolonged sitting throughout the day?

If you are, check out this amazing Guide for the “Less Sitting is Better” Campaign! The guide gives you everything you need to launch a comprehensive and evidence-based campaign in your workplace or community! The campaign consists of Social Media posts (with accompanying images) that can be used on a variety of social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram). The campaign also includes a web-based/printable infographic that organizations can use on their websites, share via email or print to distribute (hang it up in the lunchroom). This infographic has been prepared in French, English and Chinese. Please contact Leena Pehkonen: or call (807) 625-5911 for more information.

Download a high-resolution infographic and/or the awesome toolkit below!

Sit Less Campaign Infographic


Download the English Guide or French Guide


For Further Information

Call the Physical Activity Program: (807) 625-5900

or toll-free 1-888-294-6630

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