Sedentary Behavior and Public Health: Integrating the Evidence and Identifying Potential Solutions

Annu Rev Public Health. 2020 Apr 2;41:265-287. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040119-094201. Epub 2020 Jan 8.


In developed and developing countries, social, economic, and environmental transitions have led to physical inactivity and large amounts of time spent sitting. Research is now unraveling the adverse public health consequences of too much sitting. We describe improvements in device-based measurement that are providing new insights into sedentary behavior and health. We consider the implications of research linking evidence from epidemiology and behavioral science with mechanistic insights into the underlying biology of sitting time. Such evidence has led to new sedentary behavior guidelines and initiatives. We highlight ways that this emerging knowledge base can inform public health strategy: First, we consider epidemiologic and experimental evidence on the health consequences of sedentary behavior; second, we describe solutions-focused research from initiatives in workplaces and schools. To inform a broad public health strategy, researchers need to pursue evidence-informed collaborations with occupational health, education, and other sectors.

Keywords: accelerometer; physical activity; research translation; school sitting; sedentary behavior; workplace sitting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health / standards*
  • Public Health / standards*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Workplace / standards*