Sedentary Behaviour

sedentary behavior refers to activities that use very little energy while being awake. Examples of sedentary behaviour include :

  • sitting for long periods,
  • watching television,
  • riding in a bus or car,
  • playing passive video games,
  • playing on the computer, and
  • sitting in a car seat or stroller.

For optimum health benefits for children and youth between the ages of 5 to 17 years old, physical action levels should be high, and sedentary demeanor levels should be humble, with sufficient sleep each day. A healthy 24-hour includes :

  • Sweat (moderate to vigorous physical activity)
    • An accumulation of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities.  Vigorous physical activities, and muscle and bone strengthening activities should each be incorporated at least three times per week.
  • Step (light physical activity)
    • Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activity.
  • Sleep
    • Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5 to 13 years, and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14 to 17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times.
  • Sit (sedentary behaviour)
    • Less than two hours per day of recreational screen time
    • Limited sitting for extended periods.

Benefits of reducing students’ sedentary behaviour

There are lots of benefits of spending less time being sedentary for children and students, including:1

  • maintaining a healthy body weight,
  • doing better in school,
  • improving self-confidence,
  • having more fun with friends,
  • improving their fitness, and
  • having more time to learn new skills.

Reduce sedentary behaviour during the school day

Classroom-based programs that offer action breaks from prolong sitting can improve seaworthiness, reduce medication use and preserve teaching clock and academician performance.2

Tips for an active recess

  • Set up fitness stations in the halls.
  • Plan a hall walking program and measure it out to track the distance.
  • Play music and make up dance moves.
  • Play Just DanceTM in the classroom or the gym for lots of students to join in on the fun.
  • Play active games such as:Set up a circuit in the gym.
    • Freeze Dance
    • Simon Says
    • Red Light, Green Light
  • Have open gym for free play with equipment like basketballs and skipping ropes.

Screen time and sedentary behaviour

When discussing the health benefits of physical bodily process, it is important to include the topic of reducing the sum of amateur screen time for students. As an educator, you can be a positive function model when it comes to the total of screen time your students are exposed to each school day .
The Canadian Health Measures Survey ( 2012-2013 ) reported that 15 % of children aged 3 to 4 meet the guideline of less than one hour of screen time per day. Twenty four percentage of both children aged 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 met the guidepost of two hours or less of recreational blind fourth dimension per day. There is always board for improvement when it comes to reducing the amount of recreational shield time a scholar has in their day to day lives.

The Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines commend :

  • 0 to 2 years
    • Zero hours per day.
  • 2 to 4 years
    • No more than one hour per day.

The canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend :

  • 5 to 17 years
    • No more than two hours per day. Lower levels of screen time is associated with positive health benefits.

Questions to ask students around the topic of screen time:

  • Question: What does screen time mean?
    • Answer: television, video games, computers, and hand held electronic devices.
  • Question: Why is it so important to set limits on screen time?
    • Answer: spending more than two hours a day sitting in front of a screen can have negative health consequences, and takes time away from physical activity. Canadian children spend approximately 7 hours and 48 minutes on screens (i.e., televisions, computers and smart phones).3
  • Question: What can you do instead of sitting in front of a screen?
    • Answer: let children discuss some of their favourite physical activities and write them on the chalkboard or whiteboard or chart paper, or have them write them down on their own pieces of paper.
  • Question: Are active video games okay to play?
    • Answer: While active video games do require movement, physical activities like sports, outdoor games, martial arts, and dance, promote social interaction, encourage leadership skill development, and allow children to use a wide range of movement.

Curriculum resources

To order any of the follow course of study resources, please contact the Resource Centre .
View all resources to help reduce sedentary behavior .

Addtional resources


  1. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines [document on the Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology; 2012. [cited 16 July 2013]. ISBN 978-1-896900-30-8. Available from:
  2. Katz DL, Cushman D, Reynolds, J, Njike V, Treu JA, Walker J et al. Putting physical activity where it fits in the school day: preliminary results of the ANC (Activity Bursts in the Classroom) for Fitness Program. Prev Chronic Dis. 2010; 7(4): 1-6
  3. Leatherdale ST, Ahmed R. Screen-based sedentary behaviours among a nationally representative sample of youth: are Canadian kids couch potatoes? Chronic Dis Inj Can. 2011;31(4):141-46. Cited by: Active Healthy Kids Canada. Is play extinct? The 2012 active healthy kids Canada report card on physical activity for children and youth. [Internet]. Toronto (ON): Active Healthy Kids Canada; 2012 [cited 17 July 2013]. Available from:
  4. CHEO Research Institute ; Conference Board of Canada ; canadian Society for Exercise Physiology ; Public Health Agency of Canada ; Participaction ( CA ). canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for children and young person : an integration of forcible bodily process, sedentary demeanor, and sleep [ Internet ]. Ottawa ( ON ) : Participaction ; 2016 [ cited 2017 Aug 3 ]. 1 p. available from : hypertext transfer protocol : //

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