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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Characterizing the context of sedentary lifestyles in a representative sample of adults: a cross-sectional study from the physical activity measurement study project

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Youngwon Kim, Gregory J. Welk
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

YK managed, analyzed and interpreted the data collected from the PAMS project, and drafted the manuscript. GW conceptualized and designed the PAMS project, and provided critical reviews on the manuscript. Both authors approved the final version of the manuscript.



Research has clearly demonstrated that excess time spent on sedentary behavior (SB) increases health risks in the population. However, the lack of information on the context of SB in the population prevents a detailed understanding of sedentary lifestyles. The purpose of this study was to characterize the context of SB in a representative sample of adults and to examine differences across various socio-demographic indicators.


A diverse sample of 1442 adults (ages 20–71 year) completed an interviewer-administered 24-h activity recall to provide detailed information about the time, type and location of the previous day’s activities. All reported activities were matched with MET scores from the Compendium of Physical Activity but only SB (i.e., METS < 1.5) were extracted for the present analyses.


The reported SB were broadly distributed across 5 primary location categories (Work: 27.5 %, Community: 24.8 %, Home/Indoor: 20.5 %, Home/Outdoor: 15.8 %, and Transportation: 11.3 %). Patterns of SB allocations varied considerably across different socio-demographic indicators indicating the extreme variability in SB in the population.


The findings provide unique insights about the context of SB at the population level, and can serve as a guide for developing intervention/policy studies to reduce sedentary time and minimize disparities in SB.
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