Start with reducing sedentary behavior: A stepwise approach to physical activity counseling in clinical practice

Shilpa Dogra*, Jennifer L. Copeland, Teatske M. Altenburg, Daren K. Heyland, Neville Owen, David W. Dunstan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


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. Objective: To propose an evidence-informed approach to physical activity counseling that starts with a focus on reducing sedentary time. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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. Practical Implications: 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1353-1361
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

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