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The Sitting Epidemic

Risk of Sedentary Behaviour

Sedentary behaviour refers to activities with very little physical movement that require minimal energy, such as sitting or lying down while awake for long periods of time. Recently coined the “sitting disease,” sedentary behaviour is different from physical inactivity. Too much sitting is an independent risk factor for chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. We need to decrease sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity to achieve and maintain good health.

Currently, the nature of working and learning on university campuses often promotes sedentary behavior such as sitting in classes, meetings and offices, or working on computers, with few breaks for physical activity. In addition to impacting physical wellbeing, high levels of sedentary behaviour and low levels of movement also impact mental wellbeing and academic and professional success.

How Much Movement Do We Need?

Physical activity looks different for everyone, including how much, how hard, and how often is best for health benefits. For most adults, the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week is 150 minutes, spread throughout each day in increments of more than 10 minutes. Regular exercise is essential for people to achieve positive mental, physical, and social wellbeing, as well as improve concentration and cognitive function.

On average, we are sedentary more than half our waking day. Working and learning on a university campus often promotes sedentary behaviour such as sitting in classes, meetings, offices, and working on computers. Interrupt prolonged sitting by taking active breaks throughout your day. Remember – any movement is better than none!

Take It Step By Step

It’s common to let physical activity fall down your list of daily priorities. Remember that movement doesn’t mean hitting the gym or running 10km every day and all movement counts. The best way to reduce your time sitting is to commit to frequent and short movement breaks. Active breaks, impromptu dance parties, standing during a meeting, and desk exercises are all great ways to add a little bit of movement into your day!

Benefits of Moving More

There are many benefits to physical activity, including:

  • Enhanced mental health and well-being
  • Regulated sleep patterns
  • Enhanced creativity and learning
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improved mood and self-esteem
  • Improved concentration, memory, learning, and attention
  • Increased engagement and social activities
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced incidence of illness and sick days needed





We all have a hand in shaping campus environments that support health, wellbeing, and sustainability. By championing wellbeing, we can build stronger and more inclusive communities at UBC and beyond.