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Discrete Features of Sedentary Behavior Impact Cardiometabolic Risk Factors


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2015 - Volume 47 - Issue 5 - p 1079–1086
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000499
Applied Sciences

Purpose Sedentary behavior is linked to numerous poor health outcomes. This study aims to determine the effects of 7 d of increased sitting on markers of cardiometabolic risk among free-living individuals.

Methods Ten recreationally active participants (>150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per week; mean ± SD age, 25.2 ± 5.7 yr; mean ± SD body mass index, 24.9 ± 4.3 kg·m−2) completed a 7-d baseline period and a 7-d sedentary condition in their free-living environment. At baseline, participants maintained normal activity. After baseline, participants completed a 7-d sedentary condition. Participants were instructed to sit as much as possible, to limit standing and walking, and to refrain from structured exercise and leisure time physical activity. ActivPAL™ monitor was used to assess sedentary behavior and physical activity. Fasting lipids, glucose, and insulin were measured, and oral glucose tolerance test was performed after baseline and sedentary condition.

Results In comparison to baseline, total sedentary time (mean Δ, 14.9%; 95% CI, 10.2–19.6) and time in prolonged/uninterrupted sedentary bouts significantly increased, whereas the rate of breaks from sedentary time was significantly reduced (mean Δ, 21.4%; 95% CI, 6.9–35.9). For oral glucose tolerance test, 2-h plasma insulin (mean Δ, 38.8 μU·mL−1; 95% CI, 10.9–66.8) and area under the insulin curve (mean Δ, 3074.1 μU·mL−1 per 120 min; 95% CI, 526.0–5622.3) were significantly elevated after the sedentary condition. Lipid concentrations did not change. Change in 2-h insulin was negatively associated with change in light-intensity activity (r = −0.62) and positively associated with change in time in sitting bouts longer than 30 min (r = 0.82) and 60 min (r = 0.83).

Conclusion Increased free-living sitting negatively impacts markers of cardiometabolic health, and specific features of sedentary behavior (e.g., time in prolonged sitting bouts) may be particularly important.

1Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; and 2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Address for correspondence: Kate Lyden, Ph.D., Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes, University of Colorado Denver, 12801 East 17th Avenue, RC1 South, Room 7103, MS 8106, Aurora, CO 80045; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2014.

Accepted for publication August 2014.

© 2015 American College of Sports Medicine