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Most Sedentary Behavior Lasts Less Than 30 Minutes

Update Date: Dec 17, 2013 06:31 PM EST

An increasing number of studies show that lack of exercise and sedentary behavior can lead to a variety of health problems.  However, very few studies document how this behavior is patterned. For example, does most sedentary behavior occur in a few long periods of in many short periods?

A new study of 7,247 older women who wore accelerometers to measure their movement found that about two-thirds of their waking time was spent in sedentary behavior. They found that most sedentary behavior occurred in periods of less than 30 minutes.

Participants had an average age of 71 and were asked to wear an accelerometer for 7 days during waking hours. Participants wore the accelerometer for an average of 14.8 hours per day. The study revealed that the average percentage of wear time spent in sedentary behavior was 65.5 percent or 9.7 hours per day.

The findings revealed that total sedentary time increased and the number of period of sedentary behavior and breaks per sedentary hour decreased as age and body mass index increased.

The study revealed that most sedentary time occurred in periods less than 30 minutes. Only 4.8 percent of sedentary bouts lasted at least 30 minutes, meaning longer bouts of sedentary behavior comprised of 31.5 percent of total sedentary time.

"If future studies confirm the health hazards of sedentary behavior and guidelines are warranted, these data may be useful to inform recommendations on how to improve such behavior," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA.

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