Muscle Inactivity and Activity Patterns after Sedentary Time-Targeted Randomized Controlled Trial

Pesola, Arto J.1; Laukkanen, Arto1,2; Haakana, Piia1; Havu, Marko1; Sääkslahti, Arja2; Sipilä, Sarianna3; Finni, Taija1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000335

Purpose: Interventions targeting sedentary time are needed. We used detailed EMG recordings to study the short-term effectiveness of simple sedentary time-targeted tailored counseling on the total physical activity spectrum.

Methods: This cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted between 2011 and 2013 (InPact, ISRCTN28668090), and short-term effectiveness of counseling is reported in the present study. A total of 133 office workers volunteered to participate, from which muscle activity data were analyzed from 48 (intervention, n = 24; control, n = 24). After a lecture, face-to-face tailored counseling was used to set contractually binding goals regarding breaking up sitting periods and increasing family based physical activity. Primary outcome measures were assessed 11.8 ± 1.1 h before and a maximum of 2 wk after counseling including quadriceps and hamstring muscle inactivity time, sum of the five longest muscle inactivity periods, and light muscle activity time during work, commute, and leisure time.

Results: Compared with those in the controls, counseling decreased the intervention group’s muscle inactivity time by 32.6 ± 71.8 min from 69.1% ± 8.5% to 64.6% ± 10.9% (whole day, P < 0.05; work, P < 0.05; leisure, P < 0.05) and the sum of the five longest inactivity periods from 35.6 ± 14.8 to 29.7 ± 10.1 min (whole day, P < 0.05; leisure, P < 0.01). Concomitantly, light muscle activity time increased by 20.6 ± 52.6 min, from 22.2% ± 7.9% to 25.0% ± 9.7% (whole day, P < 0.05; work, P < 0.01; leisure, P < 0.05), and during work time, average EMG amplitude (percentage of EMG during maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) (%EMGMVC)) increased from 1.6% ± 0.9% to 1.8% ± 1.0% (P < 0.05) in the intervention group compared with that in the controls.

Conclusions: A simple tailored counseling was able to reduce muscle inactivity time by 33 min, which was reallocated to 21 min of light muscle activity. During work time, average EMG amplitude increased by 13%, reaching an average of 1.8% of EMGMVC. If maintained, this observed short-term effect may have health-benefiting consequences.

Author Information

1Neuromuscular Research Center, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, FINLAND; 2Department of Sport Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, FINLAND; and 3Gerontology Research Center, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, FINLAND

Address for correspondence: Arto J. Pesola, M.Sc., Neuromuscular Research Center, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, FI-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2014.

Accepted for publication March 2014.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine