Sedentary behaviour and health in adults: an overview of systematic reviews


The purpose of this overview of systematic reviews was to determine the relationship between different types and patterns of sedentary behaviour and selected health outcomes in adults and older adults. Five electronic databases were last searched in May, 2019, with a 10-year search limit. Included reviews met the a priori population (community-dwelling adults aged 18 years and older), intervention/exposure/comparator (various types and/or patterns of sedentary behaviour), and outcomes criteria. Eighteen systematic reviews were included in the evidence synthesis. High levels of sedentary behaviour are unfavourably associated with cognitive function, depression, function and disability, physical activity levels, and physical health-related quality of life in adults. Reducing or breaking up sedentary behaviour may benefit body composition and markers of cardiometabolic risk. Total sedentary behaviour and TV viewing were most consistently associated with unfavourable health outcomes, while computer and Internet use may be favourably associated with cognitive function for older adults. The quality of evidence within individual reviews (as assessed by review authors) varied from low to high, while the certainty of evidence was low to very low. These findings have important public health implications, suggesting that adults should avoid high levels of sedentary behaviour and break-up periods of prolonged sitting. (PROSPERO registration nos.: CRD42019123121 and CRD42019127157.)

Lead Researchers

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  1. Mark S. Tremblay

    Senior Scientist and Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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