Article Text

Interventions with potential to reduce sedentary time in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Anne Martin1,
  2. Claire Fitzsimons1,
  3. Ruth Jepson2,
  4. David H Saunders1,
  5. Hidde P van der Ploeg3,
  6. Pedro J Teixeira4,
  7. Cindy M Gray5,
  8. Nanette Mutrie1
  9. on behalf of the EuroFIT consortium
  1. 1Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC), Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Centre for Population Health Sciences, Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Sports and Health, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Human Performance (CIPER), University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  5. 5Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Nanette Mutrie, Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC), Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, UK; Nanette.Mutrie{at}


Context Time spent in sedentary behaviours (SB) is associated with poor health, irrespective of the level of physical activity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of interventions which included SB as an outcome measure in adults.

Methods Thirteen databases, including The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and SPORTDiscus, trial registers and reference lists, were searched for randomised controlled trials until January 2014. Study selection, data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently. Primary outcomes included SB, proxy measures of SB and patterns of accumulation of SB. Secondary outcomes were cardiometabolic health, mental health and body composition. Intervention types were categorised as SB only, physical activity (PA) only, PA and SB or lifestyle interventions (PA/SB and diet).

Results Of 8087 records, 51 studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of 34/51 studies showed a reduction of 22 min/day in sedentary time in favour of the intervention group (95% CI −35 to −9 min/day, n=5868). Lifestyle interventions reduced SB by 24 min/day (95% CI −41 to −8 min/day, n=3981, moderate quality) and interventions focusing on SB only by 42 min/day (95% CI −79 to −5 min/day, n=62, low quality). There was no evidence of an effect of PA and combined PA/SB interventions on reducing sedentary time.

Conclusions There was evidence that it is possible to intervene to reduce SB in adults. Lifestyle and SB only interventions may be promising approaches. More high quality research is needed to determine if SB interventions are sufficient to produce clinically meaningful and sustainable reductions in sedentary time.

  • Physical activity
  • Review
  • Sedentary
  • Intervention
  • Behaviour

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