Interventions with potential to reduce sedentary time in adults

Anne Martin, Claire Fitzsimons, Ruth Jepson, David H Saunders, Hidde P van der Ploeg, Pedro J Teixeira, Cindy M Gray, Nanette Mutrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Time spent in sedentary behaviours (SB) is associated with poor health, irrespective of the level of physical activity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of interventions which included SB as an outcome measure in adults.

Methods: Thirteen databases, including The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and SPORTDiscus, trial registers and reference lists, were searched for randomised controlled trials until January 2014. Study selection, data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently. Primary outcomes included SB, proxy measures of SB and patterns of accumulation of SB. Secondary outcomes were cardiometabolic health, mental health and body composition. Intervention types were categorised as SB only, physical activity (PA) only, PA and SB or lifestyle interventions (PA/SB and diet).

Results Of 8087 records, 51 studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of 34/51 studies showed a reduction of 22 min/day in sedentary time in favour of the intervention group (95% CI -35 to -9 min/day, n=5868). Lifestyle interventions reduced SB by 24 min/day (95% CI -41 to -8 min/day, n=3981, moderate quality) and interventions focusing on SB only by 42 min/day (95% CI -79 to -5 min/day, n=62, low quality). There was no evidence of an effect of PA and combined PA/SB interventions on reducing sedentary time.

Conclusions: There was evidence that it is possible to intervene to reduce SB in adults. Lifestyle and SB only interventions may be promising approaches. More high quality research is needed to determine if SB interventions are sufficient to produce clinically meaningful and sustainable reductions in sedentary time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1056-1063
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number16
Early online date23 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • sedentary behavior
  • life style intervention
  • physical activity
  • randomised controlled trial
  • older adults


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