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Active Voice: MVPA Protects Against Excessive Sedentary Behavior

from By Mark D. Peterson, Ph.D., M.S.

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Dr. Mark Peterson, an ACSM member, is a physiologist, activity epidemiologist, and research assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. His work is devoted to the treatment/prevention of obesity, sarcopenia, and functional motor deficit. He is also funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study mechanisms of metabolic dysregulation and muscle pathology among individuals with cerebral palsy (CP), and to identify behavioral interventions to prevent these secondary outcomes.

This commentary presents Dr. Peterson’s views on the topic of a research article he and his colleagues have authored and which appears in the June 2014 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise® (MSSE).


Excess dietary consumption and failure to meet the recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) have received extensive attention in the literature, as underlying factors that place individuals at risk for obesity and chronic disease (for further information, see 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the ACSM/AHA joint recommendation on physical activity and public health). However, and especially during the past few years, the topic of sedentary behavior (SB) has received equal research emphasis as a modifiable predictor of cardiometabolic diseases and early mortality. The bulk of this work has demonstrated a strong link between time spent sitting down, such as occurs during television viewing, and increased risks for negative health outcomes. Numerous large cohort studies have demonstrated an association between sitting time and risk, even after adjustment for self-reported MVPA. These findings collectively suggest the following important public health messages regarding the interplay between lack of physical activity and health deterioration: (1) physical activity and exercise cannot protect against the negative consequences of excessive SB, and/or (2) individuals who engage in large volumes of SB are at exaggerated risk because they are also less likely to engage in any physical activity. more


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