Incidental movement, lifestyle-embedded activity and sleep: new frontiers in physical activity assessment

Can J Public Health. 2007;98 Suppl 2:S208-17.


Canadian public health messages relating to physical activity have historically focused on the prescription of purposeful exercise, most often assessing leisure-time physical activity (LTPA). Although LTPA contributes to total energy expenditure (TEE), a large part of the day remains neglected unless one also considers the energy expended outside of purposeful exercise. This paper reviews the potential impact of incidental (non-exercise or non-purposeful) physical activity and lifestyle-embedded activities (chores and incidental walking) upon TEE and indicators of health. Given that incidental movement occurs sporadically throughout the day, this form of energy expenditure is perhaps most vulnerable to increasingly ubiquitous mechanization and automation. The paper also explores the relationship of physical inactivity, including sleep, to physical activity, TEE, and health outcomes. Suggestions are provided for a more comprehensive physical activity recommendation that includes all components of TEE. Objective physical activity monitors with time stamps are considered as a better means to capture and examine human movements over the entire day.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Planning Guidelines
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Life Style*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Public Health*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Social Marketing
  • Thermogenesis