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Health Psychol Rev. 2016;10(1):89-112. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2015.1082146. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

How to reduce sitting time? A review of behaviour change strategies used in sedentary behaviour reduction interventions among adults.

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a Department of Psychology , Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London , London , UK.
b UCL Centre for Behaviour Change , University College London , London , UK.
c Health Behaviour Research Centre , University College London , London , UK.
d Health Services Research & Management Division , School of Health Sciences, City University London , London , UK.
e National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine , Loughborough University , Loughborough , UK.
f Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living, Victoria University , Melbourne , Australia.
g The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit , Loughborough , UK.


Sedentary behaviour - i.e., low energy-expending waking behaviour while seated or lying down - is a health risk factor, even when controlling for physical activity. This review sought to describe the behaviour change strategies used within interventions that have sought to reduce sedentary behaviour in adults. Studies were identified through existing literature reviews, a systematic database search, and hand-searches of eligible papers. Interventions were categorised as 'very promising', 'quite promising', or 'non-promising' according to observed behaviour changes. Intervention functions and behaviour change techniques were compared across promising and non-promising interventions. Twenty-six eligible studies reported thirty-eight interventions, of which twenty (53%) were worksite-based. Fifteen interventions (39%) were very promising, eight quite promising (21%), and fifteen non-promising (39%). Very or quite promising interventions tended to have targeted sedentary behaviour instead of physical activity. Interventions based on environmental restructuring, persuasion, or education were most promising. Self-monitoring, problem solving, and restructuring the social or physical environment were particularly promising behaviour change techniques. Future sedentary reduction interventions might most fruitfully incorporate environmental modification and self-regulatory skills training. The evidence base is, however, weakened by low-quality evaluation methods; more RCTs, employing no-treatment control groups, and collecting objective data are needed.


behaviour change; intervention; sedentary behaviour

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