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ACSM Information On

Reducing Sedentary Behaviors:

Sit Less and Move More
There is strong scientific evidence that says frequent moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise
during the week plays a significant preventative role in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes,
obesity and some cancers.
The human body, with approximately 640 Some of the first evidence of the harmful
A Complete Physical Activity Program muscles and 206 bones, is made to move. effects of too much sitting first came to light
A well-rounded physical activity program includes
Yet, advances in technology have created in the 1950s, when scientists showed that
aerobic exercise and strength training exercise, but
not necessarily in the same session. This blend helps
an environment that promotes sedentary men in physically active jobs had less coronary
maintain or improve cardiorespiratory and muscular behaviors. People can now spend the majority artery disease during middle-age than men in
fitness and overall health and function. Regular physical of their waking day in a chair watching TV, physically inactive jobs. A half century later,
activity will provide more health benefits than sporadic, working at a desk, playing video games, a Canadian health study of 17,013 men and
high intensity workouts, so choose exercises you are ordering take-out and delivery, reading, women aged 18-90 years revealed that there
likely to enjoy and that you can incorporate into your shopping, banking, eating a meal at a table, or is a strong relationship between sitting and
navigating the stock market. Current research all-health causes of mortality, even if people
ACSMs physical activity recommendations for healthy findings are revealing that too much sitting are meeting the minimum physical activity
adults, updated in 2011, recommend at least 30 minutes during the day is detrimental to a persons guidelines. Thus, physical activity does not
of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard health. cancel out the ill effects of too much sitting
enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a
during the day. The highest mortality risk is
conversation) five days per week, or 20 minutes of more
Sitting Too Much Is a Health Hazard seen with obese men and women who spend
vigorous activity three days per week. Combinations
of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity can be The phrase sedentary behavior comes from most of their waking time sitting.
performed to meet this recommendation. the Latin word sedere, which means, to sit.
Although the human body is made to be in Although in our current society we cannot
Examples of typical aerobic exercises are:
frequent motion, people can sit for many hours eliminate time spent in sedentary behaviors,
Walking at a time, day after day. Sedentary behavior emerging research suggests that interrupting
Running is not simply the absence of physical activity, time spent sitting with light activities such
Stair climbing but rather a unique set of behaviors that have as standing or walking, is important for
negative effects on health. Recent research preventing the negative health consequences
Cross country skiing suggests adults spend ~60% or >8 hours of of sitting too much. Use of height-adjustable
Swimming their waking day being sedentary! Two major standing desks and addition of movement (See
contributors to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Get Active Action Plan Ideas) throughout
In addition, strength training should be performed a
are a lack of physical activity and sitting too your day can help reduce or break up extended
minimum of two days each week, with 8-12 repetitions
of 8-10 different exercises that target all major muscle much. periods of job-related sitting. At home, getting
groups. This type of training can be accomplished using up and moving at least once an hour can also
body weight, resistance bands, free weights, medicine combat the negative effects of sitting too much.
balls or weight machines.
Why Is Too Much Sitting So Harmful? 8. Walk briskly when headed to meetings. Staying Active Pays Off!
Fascinating new research is unraveling the 9. Take the stairs whenever you can. Those who are physically active tend to live longer,
mystery of why too much daily sitting is 10. Take the long route to the restroom. healthier lives. Research shows that moderate physical
so unsafe. Scientists think that too much 11. S chedule walking meetings with colleagues. activitysuch as 30 minutes a day of brisk walking
sitting impairs the bodys ability to deposit 12. S chedule short breaks into your electronic significantly contributes to longevity. Even a person
fat from the blood stream into the body. calendar as reminders to move. with risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes
13. E very 45 min-1 hour, do some squats, or even a smoking habit can gain real benefits from
These constantly elevated blood fats are a risk
incorporating regular physical activity into their daily
factor for cardiovascular disease. In addition, lunges, upper body stretches, shoulder rolls.
researchers have observed that too much sitting
during the day impairs the functioning of the Get Active Action Plan Ideas As many dieters have found, exercise can help you
bodys healthy cholesterol, known as HDL for Daily Life stay on a diet and lose weight. Whats more regular
cholesterol. HDL is the scavenger cholesterol 1. Take a family walk after dinner. exercise can help lower blood pressure, control blood
2. G et a pedometer and start tracking your sugar, improve cholesterol levels and build stronger,
that cleans up plaque sticking to arteries. If
steps. Progress up to 10,000 steps or more denser bones.
healthy cholesterol loses its ability to clean
arteries, it will also increase a persons risk of a day.
cardiovascular disease. Finally, decreases in 3. Walk your dog daily. The First Step
muscle contractions with prolonged sitting 4. R eplace those Sunday drives with Sunday Before you begin an exercise program, take a fitness test,
walks. or substantially increase your level of activity, make sure
have been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity, to answer the following questions. This physical activity
which increases the risk for type 2 diabetes. 5. W hen watching TV, stand up and move
readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) will help determine if
Science indicates that moving more during the with every commercial break. youre ready to begin an exercise routine or program.
day, in addition to getting the daily 30 minutes 6. Walk up and down escalators instead of just
of moderate-intensity activity on a daily basis, riding them. Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart
is necessary to lower ones risk of cardiovascular 7. Walk fast when doing errands. condition or that you should participate in physical
8. P ace the sidelines at your kids athletic activity only as recommended by a doctor?
disease, type 2 diabetes, and other causes of Do you feel pain in your chest during physical activity?
mortality. games.
In the past month, have you had chest pain when you
9. Walk up and down the shopping aisles at the were not doing physical activity?
Create Your Get Active Action Plan store before you shop. Do you lose your balance from dizziness? Do you ever
Creating a Get Active Action Plan 10. P  ick up a new active hobby, such as cycling lose consciousness?
incorporates different movements that fit or hiking. Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be
seamlessly with your activities in work and your 11. A  fter reading six pages of a book, get up made worse by a change in your physical activity?
and move a little. Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs for your
daily living. A very helpful and informative
blood pressure or a heart condition?
website for developing an action plan is 12. Try standing and moving whenever you are
Do you know of any reason you should not participate This website is full of talking on a cell phone. in physical activity?
innovative ideas and information about adding 13. P  lay with your kids 15-30 minutes a day.
activity to ones daily life. Here are some get 14. D  ance to your favorite inspiring music If you answered yes to one or more questions, if you are
active ideas to do at work and during your daily selections. over 40 years of age and have recently been inactive,
15. Walk briskly in the mall. or if you are concerned about your health, consult a
physician before taking a fitness test or substantially
increasing your physical activity. If you answered no to
Get Active Action Plan Ideas for Work The Key to Living Healthier
each question, then its likely that you can safely begin
1. Take a walk break every time you take a is Staying Active exercising.
coffee or tea break. Most people seek to live vibrant lives withgood
2. D o some leisurely walking with colleagues physical and mental health. However, there
Prior to Exercise
after you eat lunch together . are considerable health consequences to living
Prior to beginning any exercise program, including
3. S tand up and move whenever you have a the life of a couch potato. It is important the activities depicted in this brochure, individuals
drink of water. to dedicate 30 minutes of each day for your should seek medical evaluation and clearance to engage
4. W henever possible stand up as opposed to moderate-intensity physical activity. In in activity. Not all exercise programs are suitable for
sitting down. addition, making small movement changes everyone, and some programs may result in injury.
5. S tand up and talk on business phone in your daily life by creating your own Get Activities should be carried out at a pace that is
Active Action Plan is equally important to comfortable for the user. Users should discontinue
participation in any exercise activity that causes pain or
6. S top at the park on your way home from your overall health. Get moving, and stay
discomfort. In such event, medical consultation should
work and take a walk. moving! be immediately obtained.
7. Walk to a co-workers desk instead of
emailing or calling her/him.

ACSM grants permission to reproduce this brochure if it is reproduced in its entirety without alteration. The text may be reproduced in another publication if it is used in its entirety
without alteration and the following statement is added: Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine. Copyright 2016 American College of Sports Medicine.
This brochure was created and updated by Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and Chantal A. Vella, Ph.D. and is a product of ACSMs Consumer Information Committee. Visit ACSM online at