Skip main navigation

What is sedentary behaviour?

Sedentary behaviour is a cluster of individual behaviours where sitting or lying is the dominant posture and energy expenditure is very low.
Image of young girl sitting on a map and drawing
Sedentary behaviour is not simply a lack of physical activity but is a cluster of individual behaviours where sitting or lying is the dominant posture and energy expenditure is very low.
“Sedentary behaviour refers to any waking activity characterized by an energy expenditure ≤ 1.5 metabolic equivalents and a sitting or reclining posture. In general this means that any time a person is sitting or lying down, they are engaging in sedentary behaviour” (Sedentary Behaviour Research Network, 2016)
The concept of sedentary behaviour or sedentary time has rapidly evolved over recent years. Sedentary behaviours are multi-faceted and might include behaviours at work or school, at home, during transport, and in leisure-time. They include screen-time (TV viewing, computer use), motorised transport, and sitting to read, play, talk, eat, do homework, or listen to music.

Conversation starter

  • What do you think are the primary sedentary behaviours of young children in your country?
Sedentary behaviour is not simply a lack of physical activity but is a cluster of individual behaviours where sitting or lying is the dominant posture and energy expenditure is very low.

“Sedentary behaviour refers to any waking activity characterized by an energy expenditure ≤ 1.5 metabolic equivalents and a sitting or reclining posture. In general this means that any time a person is sitting or lying down, they are engaging in sedentary behaviour” (Sedentary Behaviour Research Network, 2016)
This article is from the free online

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education