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How sedentary are Canadian adults? It depends

Released: 2022-10-19

According to the new Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, adults should limit their sedentary time to eight hours or less per day, including three hours or less of recreational screen time. However, according to the new Health Reports study "How sedentary are Canadian adults? It depends on the measure," the percentage of Canadians meeting this guideline differs if sedentary behaviour was self-reported as opposed to captured by an accelerometer (a pedometer-like device worn on a waist belt).

When asked on a survey, Canadian adults reported that they spend about 3.2 hours per day in front of screens and 5.7 hours per day sitting. These results mean that over half of Canadians (58%) meet the screen time threshold, while 72% meet the overall sedentary time recommendation. However, when measured by accelerometers, total sedentary time was 9.8 hours per day, which means 27% of adults met the recommendations.

There is a marked difference between what is self-reported and what is measured. Understanding how much time Canadians spend engaged in sedentary behaviour is important because too much sedentary time is associated with an increased risk of obesity, hypertension, depression, chronic conditions and diseases, as well as premature mortality.

The findings in this article highlight the difference in sedentary time between what Canadians report versus what is measured by an accelerometer.


The article "How sedentary are Canadian adults? It depends on the measure" is now available in the October 2022 online issue of Health Reports, Vol. 33, No. 10 (Catalogue number82-003-X).

This issue of Health Reports also contains the article "The Canadian Bikeway Comfort and Safety metrics (Can-BICS): National measures of the bicycling environment for use in research and policy."

Contact information

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