SBRN
Terminology Consensus Project


The prominence of sedentary behavior research in health science has grown rapidly. With this growth there is increasing urgency for clear, common and accepted terminology and definitions. Such standardization is difficult to achieve, especially across multi-disciplinary researchers, practitioners, and industries. The Sedentary Behavior Research Network (SBRN) undertook a Terminology Consensus Project to address this need.


Research Paper

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Interactive Figure

Illustration of the final conceptual model of movement-based terminology arranged around a 24-hour period. The figure organizes the movements that take place throughout the day into two components: The inner ring represents the main behavior categories using energy expenditure. The outer ring provides general categories using posture. Hover over a term in the figure to view the definition. Detailed definitions, caveats and examples related to sedentary behavior are provided below the figure. The proportion of space occupied by each behavior in this figure is not prescriptive of the time that should be spent in these behaviors each day.

 
 

Consensus Definitions

Final definitions, caveats and examples of key terms from the Sedentary Behavior Research Network (SBRN) Terminology Consensus Project.

11 translations available: Chinese (traditional), Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish.

Term 1. Physical Inactivity
General Definition An insufficient physical activity level to meet present physical activity recommendations.
Caveats General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
Examples
  • Toddlers and preschoolers (1-4 years): Not achieving 180 minutes of physical activity of any intensity per day.
  • Children and youth (5-17 years): Not achieving 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day.
  • Adults (≥ 18 years): Not achieving 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
Term 2. Stationary Behavior
General Definition Stationary behavior refers to any waking behavior done while lying, reclining, sitting, or standing, with no ambulation, irrespective of energy expenditure.
Caveats
  • Stationary time: The time spent for any duration (e.g., per day, per week), in any context (e.g., at school/work), and at any intensity (e.g., standing in a line, working on an assembly line with no ambulation, working at a standing desk, sitting in a classroom) in stationary behaviors.
  • Stationary bout: A period of uninterrupted stationary time.
  • Stationary interruptions/breaks: A non-stationary bout in between two stationary bouts (applies to all age and ability groups except infants).
  • General definition applies to all age and ability groups except for infants (<1 year to pre-walking) and people with a mobility impairment who are unable to stand.
Examples
  • Use of electronic devices (e.g., television, computer, tablet, phone) while sitting, reclining or lying; reading/writing/drawing/painting/talking while sitting; sitting at school/work; sitting in a bus, car or train.
  • Standing in a line; standing at church; standing for a hallway discussion; writing a text-message while standing; using a standing desk.
  • Being carried/held/cuddled by someone.
Term 3. Sedentary Behavior
General Definition Sedentary behavior is any waking behavior characterized by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture.
Caveats
  • Sedentary time: The time spent for any duration (e.g., minutes per day) or in any context (e.g., at school or work) in sedentary behaviors.
  • Sedentary bout: A period of uninterrupted sedentary time.
  • Sedentary interruptions/breaks: A non-sedentary bout in between two sedentary bouts.
  • Infants (<1 year or pre-walking): Any waking behavior characterized by low energy expenditure while restrained (e.g., stroller/pram, high chair, car seat/capsule), or when sedate (e.g., reclining/sitting in a chair with little movement but not restrained).  Time spent in the prone position (“tummy time”) is not considered a sedentary exposure.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers (1-4 years), children and youth (5-17 years) adults (≥ 18 years) and all ability groups: Same as the general definition.
Examples
  • Infants (<1 year or pre-walking): Lying awake in the bed with minimal movement; sitting in a baby chair/high chair/stroller/car seat with minimal movement; being carried/held/cuddled by someone
  • Toddlers and preschoolers (1-4 years): Use of electronic devices (e.g., television, computer, tablet, phone) while sitting, reclining or lying; reading/drawing/painting while sitting; sitting in stroller; sitting in baby chair or couch while eating a meal; sitting in a bus, car or train.
  • Children and youth (5-17 years): Use of electronic devices (e.g., television, computer, tablet, phone) while sitting, reclining or lying; reading/writing/drawing/painting while sitting; homework while sitting; sitting at school; sitting in a bus, car or train.
  • Adults (≥ 18 years): Use of electronic devices (e.g., television, computer, tablet, phone) while sitting, reclining or lying; reading/writing/talking while sitting; sitting in a bus, car or train.
  • People who use a manual wheelchair or a power chair: Use of electronic devices (e.g., television, computer, tablet, phone) while sitting, reclining or lying; reading/writing/drawing/painting/talking while sitting; sitting in a bus, car or train; moving from place to place in a power chair; being pushed while passively sitting in a manual wheelchair.
Term 4. Standing
General Definition A position in which one has or is maintaining an upright position while supported by one's feet.
Caveats
  • Active standing: Active standing refers to any waking activity in a standing posture characterized by an energy expenditure > 2.0 METs, while standing without ambulation, whether supported or unsupported.
  • Passive standing: Passive standing refers to any waking activity in a standing posture characterized by an energy expenditure ≤ 2.0 METs, while standing without ambulation, whether supported or unsupported.
  • Standing time: The time spent for any duration (e.g., minutes per day) or in any context (e.g., at school/work) while standing.
  • Standing bout: A period of uninterrupted time while standing.
  • Standing interruptions/breaks: A non-standing bout in between two standing bouts.
  • Infants (<1 year or pre-walking), toddlers and preschoolers (1-4 years), children and youth (5-17 years), adults (≥ 18 years) and people who use a manual wheelchair or a power chair: Same as the general definition.
  • People who are unable to stand: Not applicable.
Examples
  • Active standing: Standing on a ladder; standing while painting; standing while washing dishes; working an assembly line while standing; standing while juggling; standing while lifting weights.
  • Passive standing: Standing in a line; standing for a hallway discussion; use of electronic devices (e.g., television, computer, tablet, phone) while standing; standing at church.
  • Supported standing: Standing while holding a couch, chair, or a parent's hand; standing with the aid of crutches, a cane, standing frame or body weight support.
Term 5. Screen Time
General Definition Screen time refers to the time spent on screen-based behaviors. These behaviors can be performed while being sedentary or physically active.
Caveats
  • Recreational screen time: Time spent in screen behaviors that are not related to school or work.
  • Stationary screen time: Time spent using a screen-based device (e.g., smartphone, tablet, computer, television) while being stationary in any context (e.g., school, work, recreational).
  • Sedentary screen time: Time spent using a screen-based device (e.g., smartphone, tablet, computer, television) while being sedentary in any context (e.g., school, work, recreational).
  • Active screen time: Time spent using a screen-based device (e.g., smartphone, tablet, computer, television) while not being stationary in any context (e.g., school, work, recreational).
  • General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
Examples
  • All age and ability groups: Watching TV, using a smartphone/tablet, using a computer.
  • Active screen time: Playing active video games, running on a treadmill while watching television.
Term 6. Non-Screen-Based Sedentary Time
General Definition Non-screen-based sedentary time refers to the time spent in sedentary behaviors that do not involve the use of screens.
Caveats
  • Recreational non-screen time: Time spent in non-screen based sedentary behaviors that are not related to school or work.
  • General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
Examples
  • Infants (<1 year or pre-walking): Lying supine on a mat while sedate; sitting in a stroller or car seat with little movement.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers (1-4 years): Sitting in a child seat, chair or car seat; sitting idle in the sandbox or on the floor; reading a non-electronic book or playing a board game while seated.
  • Children and youth (5-17 years): Sitting at school; sitting doing homework or art work; reading a non-electronic book; playing a board game; sitting in a car.
  • Adults (≥ 18 years): Reading a non-electronic book; playing a board game; sitting in a car.
  • People who use a manual wheelchair or a power chair: Reading a non-electronic book; playing a board game; sitting in a car; being pushed while passively sitting in a manual wheelchair.
Term 7. Sitting
General Definition A position in which one's weight is supported by one's buttocks rather than one's feet, and in which one's back is upright.
Caveats
  • Active sitting: Active sitting refers to any waking activity in a sitting posture characterized by an energy expenditure > 1.5 METs.
  • Passive sitting: Passive sitting refers to any waking activity in a sitting posture characterized by an energy expenditure ≤ 1.5 METs.
  • General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
Examples
  • Active sitting: Working on a seated assembly line; playing guitar while seated; using devices that engage ones feet/legs while seated; doing arm ergometry while in a wheelchair.
  • Passive sitting: Refer to sedentary behavior examples while sitting.
Term 8. Reclining
General Definition Reclining is a body position between sitting and lying.
Caveats
  • General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
  • Reclining behavior can be either passive (≤ 1.5 METs) or active (>1.5 METs).
Examples
  • Passive reclining (all age and ability groups): Lounging/slouching on a chair or couch while sedentary.
  • Active reclining (all age and ability groups): Recumbent cycling.
Term 9. Lying
General Definition Lying refers to being in a horizontal position on a supporting surface.
Caveats
  • General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
  • Lying behavior can be either passive (≤ 1.5 METs) or active (>1.5 METs).
Examples
  • Passive lying (all age and ability groups): Lying on a couch, bed or floor while sedentary.
  • Active lying (all age and ability groups): Isometric plank hold.
Term 10. Sedentary Behavior Pattern
General Definition The manner in which sedentary behavior is accumulated throughout the day or week while awake (e.g., the timing, duration and frequency of sedentary bouts and breaks).
Caveats General definition applies to all age and ability groups.
Examples
  • Prolonger: Someone who accumulates sedentary time in extended continuous bouts.
  • Breaker: Someone who accumulates sedentary time with frequent interruptions and in short bouts.

MET = metabolic equivalent corresponding to resting metabolic rate of the population under study. A metabolic equivalent is deemed to be 3.5 ml O2/kg/min in adults without mobility impairment or chronic disease. A metabolic equivalent is generally higher in children and in those with conditions that elevate muscle activity or metabolism and is generally lower in those with paralysis, small muscle mass or wasting conditions. The interpretation of MET values should be made with attention to the population under study, and the definitions and caveats above applied accordingly.