• To increase physical activity levels, we may need to start with sedentary behavior counseling.
• We propose a stepwise approach that starts with targeting prolonged and interrupted sitting.
• This approach might lead to greater success in those who are highly sedentary and inactive.
• Starting with moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity may lead to poor long-term adherence.
Recently, sedentary behavior recommendations have been included in the public health guidelines of multiple countries, pointing to new opportunities for prevention of chronic disease as well as a potential strategy for initiating long-term behavior change.
To propose an evidence-informed approach to physical activity counseling that starts with a focus on reducing sedentary time.
We put forward a case for addressing changes in sedentary behavior in clinical practice using a narrative review. We also propose a new approach for the assessment and counselling of patients with respect to movement behaviors.
There is evidence to support a stepwise approach to physical activity counseling that starts with targeting sedentary behavior, particularly in those who are highly sedentary, or those who have chronic disease, or physical impairments.
Our approach encourages clinicians to consider sedentary behavior counseling as a critical first step to physical activity counseling. For many patients, this initial step of reducing sedentary behavior could build a pathway to an active lifestyle.
A shift from long periods of sedentary time to daily routines incorporating more light intensity physical activity could result in meaningful health improvements. Importantly, this approach may be more feasible for highly inactive patients.
Dogra S, Copeland JL, Altenburg TM, Heyland DK, Owen N, Dunstan DW. Start with reducing sedentary behavior: A stepwise approach to physical activity counseling in clinical practice [published online ahead of print, 2021 Sep 13]. Patient Educ Couns. 2021;S0738-3991(21)00628-5. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2021.09.019