Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Personal View

Should our children be sitting comfortably in school?

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 06 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4273
  1. Ash C Routen, PhD student, Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester
  1. a.routen{at}

Aware of the irony of writing about sedentary behaviour while sitting for prolonged periods most days, I type this viewpoint while pedalling on a micro-exercise bike that fits underneath my desk.

In early February of this year the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) released guidelines on sedentary behaviour among children and young people aged 5 to 17. These are the first evidence based guidelines published on this topic, and they mark an important shift in the appreciation of sedentary behaviour as an independent health risk. Over the past decade researchers have begun to redefine our understanding of what constitutes sedentary behaviour, shifting the focus from simply the absence of sufficient health enhancing physical activity. Some research groups now posit that sedentarism is the engagement in a separate class of behaviours characterised by minimal movement and low energy expenditure—for example, sitting or watching television.

Research is now showing that prolonged sedentary behaviour is independently and positively associated with …

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