Conference Overview

Sedentary behavior, specifically prolonged sitting, is now understood to be a significant and distinct health risk. Yet, many critical measurement and research questions and issues in sedentary behavior and health remain unanswered or unaddressed. The purpose of this conference is to provide forum to update and address critical measurement and research issues, as well as practical concerns, in sedentary behavior and health research and practice.


Conference Abstract

Prolonged sitting is now understood to be a significant and distinct behavioral attribute that is manifested in multiple life contexts. Identifying sedentary behavior as a novel term within the physical activity and health equation does not, however, contradict or negate what is well understood about the health benefits of participation in moderate-intensity and vigorous intensity physical activity. Rather, understanding sedentary behavior in this context broadens our perspective on the health benefits of physical activity and identifies novel targets for health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. “Sedentary behavior” thus may be defined as too much sitting, as distinct from too little exercise. Reducing sitting time has emerged as a potential new strategy for physical activity promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives. Sitting time reflects the accumulated hours spent each day in the numerous sedentary behaviors during commuting, at school, in the workplace, the domestic environment and during leisure time. Even for those who meet the public health recommendation, there are deleterious metabolic consequences of the 7 to 10 hours of sitting that they can be exposed to each day.

The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum to update and address critical measurement and research issues, as well as practical concerns, in sedentary behavior and health research and practice. There are seven specific aims for this conference:

1. To understand how sedentary behavior (or too much sitting) may be defined as a behavioral attribute that is distinct from physical inactivity (or too little exercise).

2. To provide evolutionary and historical perspectives and concepts on sedentary behavior and its relationship with health and chronic diseases, especially cancer.

3. To describe some key characteristics of the rapidly evolving body of research evidence on sedentary behavior, health and chronic diseases, especially cancer.

4. To address critical measurement and research challenges in sedentary behavior and health research, and explore the potential held by the latest technological methods.

5. To describe the characteristics of sedentary behavior by subpopulations, e.g., cancer survivors, children, older adults, minorities, and persons with disabilities.

6. To provide a review and update on a variety of intervention theories, strategies, and programs.

7. To outline research priorities for future sedentary behavior and health research.


Conference Importance

Using a three-day conference format, which includes 3 preconference workshops, 6 sections, 28 presentations by more than 30 nationally and internationally known scholars in sedentary behavior research, 2 poster presentations, and several community health promotion activities, this conference will be the first to report and illustrate the latest research studies, methods, and technologies that could address the issues, solve the problems, and guide future research directions related to sedentary behavior and health. The conference format, in fact, proved to be effective in the two previous successful conferences we organized here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition, we will run the conference at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) this time to take full advantage of its world-class information gathering and dissemination capacity (e.g., streaming, recording, and distributing of the presentations online). Moreover, based on the information generated, a book entitled “Sedentary Behavior and Health: Concepts, Assessment & Intervention” will be published by Human Kinetics, the largest publisher of sport and physical activity information. Finally, efforts will be made for worldwide distribution of the information generated from the conference through social media to raise the general public’s awareness of the negative impact of sedentary behavior as one of the major health risk factors in the 21st century.

For more information, download our Research Strategy.