Authors: Adam J. Swartzendruber, Karen A. Croteau
Adam J. Swartzendruber
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Department of Sport and Exercise Science
278 Whites Bridge Rd.
Standish, ME 04062
Adam J. Swartzendruber is an Assistant Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.
Karen A. Croteau is Professor and Department Chair of Sport and Exercise Science at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Sitting Time and Physical Activity Comparison between Student Athletes and Non-Athletes: A Pilot Study
Sitting time among young college athletes may be greater than or equal to individuals considered inactive and not meeting Physical Activity (PA) recommendations. Meeting or exceeding PA guidelines alone may not be enough to overcome the deleterious cardiometabolic effects of high sitting time. In part, this may be made evident by an independent relationship between sitting time and PA. Data from 163 full-time college students aged 18-24 were collected. Mean sitting times and Light PA (LPA) were analyzed for differences between athletes and non-athletes. Correlation analysis was completed to determine the relationship between exercise time and sitting time. Mean daily sitting time was 10.96 ± 2.98 hours, and as a percentage of total wake time, 58.86 ± 0.08% of wake time was spent sitting. No statistically significant difference in mean sitting time, in minutes, was shown between athletes (M = 629.91 min., SD = 171.657) and non-athletes (M = 677.76, SD = 182.506), as the mean difference was M = -47.854, 95% CI [-110.216, 14.508], t(129) = -1.518, p = .131, d = .27. There was no significant correlation between daily sitting time and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) time, rs (54) = .195, p = 0.154. Next, there was no significant difference in daily LPA between athletes (M = 102.45, SD = 75.209) and non-athletes (M = 111.87, SD = 100.481) in minutes, as the mean difference was M = -9.414, 95% CI [-41.204, 22.377], t(129) = -.586, p = .541, d = .10. These outcomes support previous studies showing that athletes can be highly active and highly sedentary because of the independent relationship between MPVA time and sitting time. Research must continue with other athletic populations, preferably using accelerometry, and include the collection of cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers to determine the potential for athletes to be at risk despite their high activity level.
Key words: sitting time, athletes, LPA, MVPA, physical activity, sedentary behavior, accelerometry
Increased cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality have been associated with daily, prolonged sedentary behaviors (2, 14, 19). Prolonged sedentary activities are termed sitting time. Sitting time includes time spent sitting in non-ambulatory sitting, reclining, or lying positions while awake and not exceeding 1.0-1.5 Metabolic Equivalents (METs), or 100-150% of the resting metabolic rate (17, 18). Extensive literature has shown the significant preventive health, as well as fitness, benefits of physical activity and exercise. Consequently, there are published physical activity (PA) guidelines (20), which include recommendations to reduce the associated cardiovascular metabolic risk factors for developing all chronic health-related diseases. Nonetheless, daily, accumulated sitting time is independent from PA no matter the activity level of an individual, including vigorously active athletes (12, 14, 17, 22). Therefore, sitting time is at least as important as PA in regard to either increasing or decreasing the risk of promoting chronic health-related diseases (16, 17, 23).
Prolonged sitting time is of great concern because it is highly prevalent, as 55%-70% of the populations’ waking hours within western countries, or 9 to 11 hours/day, are spent sedentary (5, 10). Sitting time comprises 7.3 to 9.3 hours of the populations’ waking hours among U.S. children and adults, which is 51%-58% of waking hours (4, 7). Furthermore, those who meet or exceed the PA guidelines are spending an average of 71% of their waking hours in sedentary pursuits (17), meaning active individuals may often sit more than those who do not meet PA guidelines. Judice et al. (12) and Whitfield et al. (23) found that athletes were sitting 7 to 10 hours/day despite very high frequency and accumulation of weekly moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) at 17.2 hours per week. Swartzendruber (22) found that university athletes were sitting at least 10 hours/day, yet exercising an average of at least 13 hours/week.
These reported high sitting times are a concern because Chau et al. (5) found that all-cause mortality risk rises at least 5% per hour of sitting when sitting more than 7 hours/day, independent of MVPA levels. Moreover, after controlling for PA levels, Chau et al. (5) found a 34 to 52% increase in all-cause mortality risk for every hour of sitting when sitting for ≥ 10 hours/day. Likewise, Ekeland et al. (8) found that sitting ≥ 8 hours/day increased all-cause mortality risk by 58%, independent of MVPA and PA levels and of all other risks. Consequently, despite very high MVPA, Judice et al. (12) found athletes to have unexpectedly high fat mass, trunk fat mass, and waist circumference associated with sedentary behavior, which corresponded with the independent relationship the authors found between MVPA and sitting time. With evidence showing high risk of sitting time independent of MVPA and PA, and independent from the negative consequence of other lifestyle risk factors (such as obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and smoking), it is important to continue investigating sitting time and cardiometabolic health markers to better determine the prevalence and associated risk of high sitting behavior not only with the general non-athlete populations, but athletes as well.
Individuals can meet or exceed the PA guidelines, which is > 2.5 hours/week (6), and still live a very sedentary lifestyle (12, 17, 22, 23). Moreover, sitting time among athletes may be greater than or equal to individuals considered inactive and do not meet the PA guidelines (12, 17, 22, 23). Alone, meeting or exceeding the PA guidelines cannot overcome the negative effects of high amounts of daily sitting time (3, 12). Regular MVPA that meets or exceeds the PA guidelines may not be enough activity to compensate for the damaging cardiometabolic effects resulting from prolonged sitting (3), which is also evident in the independent relationship found between sitting time and MPVA according to current literature (12, 22).
Sitting time, and the relationship between sitting time and MVPA time, of many athletic populations must continue to be investigated to better determine prevalence and risk among athletes to better understand the independent relationship. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, only three studies have been published on the sitting time of athletes, and only one of those were on college athletes. In addition, only Judice et al. (12) and Swartzendruber (22) examined the relationship between MVPA time and sitting time; however, sitting time was expressed as daily and MVPA time was expressed as weekly, not daily, therefore the two behaviors were not measured within the same context. Finally, no studies on athletes have directly compared their sitting times to their non-athletic peers within the same population. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the sitting time of college athletes at an institution, compare the sitting time of the athletes to the non-athletes, and determine the relationship between average daily MPVA time and sitting time. The author hypothesizes that there is a difference between sitting times of athletes and non-athletes. Secondly, the author hypothesizes that there is an association between daily average sitting time and MVPA exercise time among athletes. Lastly, a difference between LPA time of athletes and non-athletes is hypothesized.
Participants were eligible to complete the voluntary survey if enrolled in the college full-time, ages 18 to 24, and an athlete in a college-sponsored competitive sport or non-athlete. Exclusion criteria included participant data entry errors, including but not limited to, total sitting and/or sleeping hours that exceeded more than 24 hours, and implausible MVPA or LPA time.
The Multi-context Sitting and Physical Activity Questionnaire (MSPAQ), is a modified version of the validated Multi-context Sit-Time Questionnaire (MSTQ) (23, 24). The MSTQ was designed to assess sitting time in various forms, or domains, of sedentary behaviors of recreational athletes training for marathons who were workers, non-workers, students, and retired persons. The sitting domains assessed included sleeping as well as sitting while working, studying, and reading, watching television, using computer and/or video games (non-work), using transportation (except bicycles), and talking, texting, or other socializing. Sleeping and sitting time domains were collected as hours and minutes. In addition, the aforementioned data was assessed for both work and non-work days. Swartzendruber (22) modified the MSTQ to describe the days as class days and non-class days, rather than work and non-work because the population of interest were full-time student athletes. No other changes were made. Validation of the MSTQ occurred with test-retest reliability, intra-class correlations (ICC) greater than 0.70 for total sitting time and adequate convergent validity when compared to accelerometer-estimated sedentary time of 0.34 to 0.61.7 (24).
Content validity of the modified MSTQ (22) had been assessed by a panel of three content and research experts and a Cronbach’s alpha was performed to test reliability of the changes. The modified MSTQ reported an ICC of r = 0.344 and Cronbach α = 0.344 between all quantitative items. In addition, an IIC of r = 0.745, and Cronbach α = 0.745, between the different sitting behavior domains, which showed no difference between the reliability scores.
The current study made one modification to the MSTQ, added PA questions, and renamed it the MSPAQ. Because class day and non-class day sitting time were not significantly different (22) the MSTQ questions were asked only for one average day for the current study. Furthermore, Swartzendruber (22) found no relationship between average total daily sitting time and weekly MVPA,which was consistent with Judice et al. (12). However, the outcome may have been due to sitting time being reported daily, and MVPA, weekly; giving the different contexts. Therefore, the current study reports both sitting time and MPVA in the same daily context for correlation analysis. In addition, LPA was added because, to the best of the author’s knowledge, LPA had not previously been asked when surveying college athletes, or had compared LPA of college athletes to non-athletes. Also, the author determined to add a daily LPA question because it contributed to physical activity and regular LPA may reduce reported sitting time (8).
The MPVA frequency and average daily duration of moderate, vigorous, and light PA (LPA) time questions were adopted from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire – Short Form (11) as research supports the validity and reliability for collecting sitting time and PA data (6). However, the separate moderate and vigorous exercise time questions adopted from the IPAQ were combined into one because research has reported individual over-reporting of daily PA using the IPAQ (13). Furthermore, the authors’ goal was to simplify the PA questions to improve respondent recall of their physical activities. Finally, demographic questions were included, in addition to whether a participant was currently training in- or off-season, and the sport in which they participated.
A panel of three content and research experts assisted with modifying the questionnaire, and the modified instrument was distributed to 11 college students to confirm the ease of completion. After the population of athletes were surveyed, the two-way mixed Intra-class Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was used with average measures and consistency to determine the mean ICC between all quantitative MSPAQ assessed sleep time and sitting time (15), as well as Cronbach’s alpha (α).
Permission from the original authors was granted to adopt and modify the MSTQ for college athletes, where the only significant modification was the change from work and non-work days, to class and non-class days. Expedited approval for the study was granted by the college’s Institutional Review Board to distribute electronically the MSPAQ to the entire student body. The investigators also received approval from the Academic Dean and Senior Director of Athletics to distribute the MSPAQ to both the athlete and non-athlete student population, and both individuals assisted in distribution and announcement to the student body via the athletics department coaching staff and faculty.
The MSPAQ was distributed using Survey Monkey using an email link, which directed each participant to the survey where they were first required to complete the electronic informed consent in order to complete the survey and be included in the data analysis. Once data collection was completed, data were secured electronically to which only the investigators of the study had access. No individual or digital identifiers were collected in order to maintain anonymity, and no individual data were released.
Demographic variables, MVPA and LPA frequency, average daily MVPA and LPA time, and sitting time variables were examined using descriptive statistics. Additionally, wake time, sleep time, MVPA time, and LPA time, were also reported in minutes, and the proportion of wake time spent sitting was determined as total reported sitting time divided by waking minutes.
An independent-samples t-test was used to examine the difference of total sitting time (converted to minutes) between athletes and non-athletes, and assessed for normality using Shapiro-Wilk tests. If the data were not normally distributed, a non-parametric Mann Witney U test was performed to examine the difference. A Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was performed to determine any association between total daily sitting time and mean daily MVPA among athletes. If the data were not normally distributed, a Spearman’s rank-order test was performed. An independent-samples t-test was used to examine the difference between LPA time of athletes and non-athletes. If the data were not normally distributed, a non-parametric Mann Witney U test was performed to examine the difference. The appropriate assumption tests for each statistical test were completed.
Two-way mixed Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was used with average measures and consistency to determine the mean ICC (8) between all quantitative MSPAQ assessed sleep time and sitting time, as well as Cronbach’s alpha (α). Significance was set at α = 0.05, and all calculations were conducted in IBM-SPSS Statistics for Windows Version 25.
Distribution of the survey resulted in 163 college athletes (n = 56) and non-athletes (n=75). However, only 131 participant surveys were included in the data analysis due to 32 being excluded. Furthermore, it must be noted that the following table (Table 1) shows data for 54 athletes who reported their sport as two athletes did not report their sport. The exclusions were due to a combination of students exceeding the traditional 18 to 24 year old college-age as well as sitting and physical activity reporting errors by the participants that could not be corrected. The following table (Table 1) includes the descriptive statistics.
Table 1. Descriptive Characteristics
|Age(mean)||20.05 ± 1.273|
-Hispanic or Latino
|Mean Height(in.)||66.98 ± 3.593|
|Mean Body Mass(lb.)||159.15 ± 32.984|
|Mean Body Mass Index (BMI)||24.82 ± 4.385|
-Track & Field
-Track & Cross Country
-Lacrosse & Field Hockey
Two-way mixed Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was used with average measures and consistency to determine the mean ICC between all quantitative MSPAQ data, as well as Cronbach’s alpha (α). The MSPAQ was deployed to measure different sedentary behaviors, including sleeping, and MPVA and LPA behaviors. There were 11 MSPAQ questions to assess the constructs. The ICC for all items was r = 0.529, 95% CI [.075, .821], p = .014, and Cronbach’s α of 0.529, which is indicative of moderate reliability but unacceptable internal consistency. However, when only the 6 items that assess the sitting and sleeping construct to determine sitting time were examined, good reliability and acceptable internal consistency is indicated by an ICC of r = .829, 95% CI [.738, .829], p = <.001, and Cronbach’s α of 0.829, which is a similar result to the same questions asked in previous surveys by Swartzendruber (2018) and Whitfield et al. (2014).
There were 56 college athletes and 75 non-athletes who participated. Sitting time for both athletes and non-athletes were normally distributed, as assessed by Shapiro-Wilk’s test (p > .05). There were no significant differences of daily sitting time between college athletes (M = 629.91, SD = 171.657) and non-athletes (M = 677.76, SD = 182.506), as the mean difference was M = -47.854, 95% CI [-110.216, 14.508], t(129) = -1.518, p = .131, d = .27. Mean sitting time was not significantly different between college athletes and non-athletes.
Spearman correlations were used instead of Pearson because MVPA time was found to not be normally distributed as assessed by Shapiro-Wilks tests (p < 0.05). There was no significant correlation between daily sitting time and daily MVPA time among college athletes, rs (54) = .195, p = 0.154.
Examination of LPA time differences between college athletes and non-athletes were completed using an independent-samples t-test (n = 131). Sitting time for both athletes and non-athletes were not normally distributed, as assessed by Shapiro-Wilk’s test (p > .05). Therefore, a nonparametric Mann Whitney U test was used. College athletes (mean rank = 64.56) and non-athletes (mean rank = 67.04) were not statistically significantly different, U = 2011, z = -3.78, p = .706. Mean LPA time between college athletes and non-athletes was not significantly different.
After examination of the t-test, it was determined that there were no significant differences of LPA time between college athletes (M = 102.45, SD = 75.209) and non-athletes (M = 111.87, SD = 100.481) as the mean difference was M = -9.414, 95% CI [-41.204, 22.377], t(129) = -.586, p = .541, d = .10.
Mean sitting time for the total sample was 10.96 hours. Sit time as a percentage of total time awake was 58.95% overall, 57.97% for athletes, and 59.7% for non-athletes. Mean MVPA time was 1.72 hours. Mean sitting time was 10.47 hours for athletes and 11.33 hours for non-athletes. Mean MVPA time was 1.72 hours/day overall, 2.50 hours for athletes, and 1.14 hours for non-athletes. Mean LPA time was 1.80 hours/day overall, 1.65 hours for athletes, and 1.88 hours for non-athletes. Table 2 includes mean hours for sitting time, MPVA time, and LPA time, as well as percent sitting of wake time by athlete status, sport, training season (in- or off-season), and sex.
Table 2. Percent Wake Time Sitting, and Sitting Time, MVPA Time, and LPA Time in hours.
|Percent Wake Time Sitting M(SD)||Sitting Time M(SD)||MVPA Time M(SD)||LPA Time M(SD)|
|Athlete||57.97% (± 8.19%)||10.47 (±2.84)||2.50 (± 1.39)||1.70 (± 1.25)|
|Non-Athlete||59.70% (± 7.94%)||11.33 (± 3.05)||1.14 (± 0.70)||1.88 (± 1.68)|
|Male||57.45% (± 8.45%)||10.21 (± 2.92)||1.84 (± 1.09)||1.86 (± 1.78)|
|Female||59.75% (± 7.78%)||11.35 (± 2.95)||1.66 (± 1.32)||1.77 (± 1.36)|
|In-Season||59.03% (± 6.45%)||10.23 (± 2.08)||2.85 (± 1.51)||1.65 (± 1.25)|
|Off-season||56.66% (± 9.92%)||10.77 (± 3.60)||2.05 (± 1.09)||1.75 (± 1.27)|
|Total||58.95 (± 8.06%)||10.96 (± 2.98)||1.72 (± 1.24)||1.8 (± 1.51)|
After visual inspection of the sitting time data shown in Table 2 following the analysis, the authors decided to perform an independent-samples t-test to determine whether there is a difference between in-season and off-season for sitting time among athletes, as athletes are often more active in-season due to more sport practice sessions and competitions. Sitting time in-season and off-season among college athletes were normally distributed as assessed by Shapiro-Wilk’s test (p > 0.05). There was no significant difference in daily sitting time between in-season (M = 613.55, SD = 22.936) and off-season (M = 646.20, SD = 43.20) among college athletes, as the mean difference was M = -32.652, SE = 46.071, 95% CI [-125.019, 59.715], t(54) = -.709, p = .482, d = .948.
Visual inspection of MVPA time data shown in Table 2 post-analysis also warranted evaluation of MPVA time differences between the in-season and off-season via an independent-samples t-test. MPVA time between in-season and off-season were not normally distributed as assessed by Shapiro-Wilk’s test (p < .001). There was a statistically significant difference in MVPA time between mean in-season (M = 171.29, SD = 16.295) and off-season (M = 123.0, SD = 13.124), with in-season MVPA time being higher than off-season MVPA time, M = 48.29, 95% CI [4.884, 91.697], t(54) = 2.23, p = 0.03, d = 3.264.
To summarize, there was no statistically significant difference between daily sitting time of college athletes and non-athletes; hence, the null hypothesis failed to be rejected. Next, there was no statistically significant correlation, positive or inverse, between daily sitting time and MVPA time; therefore, the null hypothesis failed to be rejected. There was no statistically significant difference between college athletes and non-athletes for LPA time. There was no statistically significant difference between daily sitting time of athletes between in-season and off-season. Finally, MVPA time was significantly different between in-season and off-season, with in-season athletes accumulating more MVPA than off-season.
The purpose of this study was to determine the sitting time of college athletes, compare the sitting time of the athletes to the non-athletes, as well as determine the relationship between average daily MPVA time and sitting time, and determine differences in LPA time between college athletes and non-athletes. Sitting time was not different between the college athletes and non-athletes. There was no correlation between daily sitting time and MVPA time among athletes, demonstrating independence of the two variables. LPA time was not different between the college athletes and non-athletes. Similar sitting time and LPA time between athletes and non-athletes was unexpected due to the greater MPVA time of athletes compared to non-athletes, particularly in-season. The data showed that the mean sitting time was nearly 11 hours/day, which was 58.96% of waking hours. Finally, mean LPA time was 1.69 hours/day for the athletes and 1.99 hours/day for the non-athletes, and mean between groups of 1.8 hours/day.
The results of the current study demonstrates, and supports the previous research, that not only physically inactive individuals, but also highly active individuals, are often highly sedentary because PA was shown to be independent of sitting time and the associated sedentary behaviors (12, 14, 22). Current literature shows that regular MVPA that meets or exceeds the PA guidelines may not be enough activity to compensate for the damaging cardiometabolic effects resulting from prolonged sitting (3, 5, 9, 12, 17); therefore, it is concerning that highly active athletes are sitting as much as their peers. As noted previously, ≥ 8 hours/day of sitting has been found to increase all-cause mortality risk by 58%, independent of MVPA, other PA levels, all other risks, and variables including age (8). Furthermore, Judice et al. (12) found fat mass, trunk fat mass, and waist circumference, and high sitting time, among professionally competitive athletes.
Chau et al. (5) reported that 55-70% of waking hours (9-11 hours) among non-athletic populations in western cultures are spent in sedentary activities. Similarly, Owen et al. (17) reported that highly active individuals are spending 71% of their wake time sitting, while several studies reported also reported 7 to 10 hours of sitting per day (12, 22, 23). These data show consistency in the results in regards to percentage of time spent sitting, despite the observation that both recreational and competitive athletes are exceeding the recommended MVPA guidelines by far, including the present study.
In the present study, sitting time was similar to aforementioned research, as the athletes were sedentary for 58% of their waking hours, versus 59% for non-athletes, or 10.47 hours per day versus 11.33 hours respectively, with an average of 10.96 hours/day. Additionally, despite the differences in MVPA frequency and time, 5 days/week at 2.5 hours/day for the athletes, and 3 days/week at 1.14 hours per day for non-athletes, sitting time, percentage of wake time, and LPA, were similar and no relationship was found between MPVA and sitting time, which aligns with previous studies (12, 22). These data add to the current literature’s evidence that high MVPA does not mean lower sitting time, hence the now more common analogy that highly active individuals can also be highly sedentary, or active coach potatoes.
Additional analysis also demonstrated that, while MVPA time was different between in-season and off-season, with the mean difference being significantly greater in-season, sitting time was not significantly different between in-season and off-season. This outcome strengthens the lack of correlation observed between sitting time and MVPA time within this study. However, larger samples of athletes must be surveyed and objectively measured to explore this phenomenon further.
Not only are these results similar to previous studies on athletes, but to the best of the authors’ knowledge, a significant strength of this study is that it is the first to concurrently compare college athletes’ and non-athletes’ sitting time among the same population. In addition, this is the first study to investigate the correlation between daily MVPA time and sitting time among college athletes, as previous studies compared daily sitting with weekly MVPA, which are different constructs (12, 22). Finally, this study is the first to collect LPA time data of college athletes, as well as to compare concurrently athlete LPA time with non-athlete LPA time. A final advantage to this study was the sample size, 55 athletes and 76 non-athletes, for a total of 131 participants.
The limitations of the study include the subjective nature of the self-report survey, which is subject to recall bias and social desirability bias. Furthermore, a larger sample size is needed and the generalizability of this study is limited to the college population. However, when comparing demographics of the athletes between this study and one previous study that examined sitting time, the sitting time results were very similar. Swartzendruber (22) reported 62% (10.47 hours/day) of the populations’ wake time was spent sitting, and the present study reported 58% (10.96 hours/day) of the populations’ wake time was spent sitting. This may improve generalizability because the previous study was conducted at a Division One Historically Black College and University where 52% of the respondents were Black/African American, while the present study was conducted at a small Division Three Private Catholic College where 95.4% of the respondents were White/Caucasian.
College athletes, compared to non-athletes within the same population, were found to be at least as sedentary as their non-athlete peers were. The literature has also found this to be shown in previous research (5, 9, 12, 17, 22, 23). These findings indicate that athletes have similar prevalence of highly sedentary behaviors and sitting time as their comparatively physically inactive and non-athlete peers.
This study, as well as previous research (12, 22) found that high MVPA time and sitting time are not correlated, due to the behaviors being independent of each other. College athletes are not sitting less that non-athletes because of their high activity, showing that they can be both highly active and highly sedentary, which is contrary to the common assumption that athletes sit less.
Furthermore, this is the first study to collect data on LPA time among athletes, which was also found to be not different from their non-athlete peers, demonstrating that sitting time is still similar to their non-athlete peers even after considering both MVPA and LPA time. Research has previously shown that daily accumulation of sitting hours ≥ 8 hours/day may greatly increase all-cause mortality and disease risk 58% for every hour sitting and 34-52% for every hour of sitting ≥ 10 hours/day independent of MVPA, overall PA levels, and all other cardiometabolic risks (9). Hence, as athletes are shown to be sitting at least 8 to 10 hours/day or more, this should raise concern for their risk of disease, even as young adults based on the evidence from the literature. Yet, knowledge gaps remain.
This study should be repeated at other higher education institutions and organizations that work with all forms of highly active individuals to determine whether the results are more generalizable across larger and more diverse populations. Next, researchers must continue to develop and implement improved subjective instruments to measure more accurately physical activities and behaviors while concurrently using accelerometry to collect objective data. In addition, research must continue on sitting time, MVPA, and LPA differences among athletes between in-season and off-season to determine whether the relationships are different from the present study. Finally, cardio-metabolic biomarkers should be collected from athletes to determine whether the presence of a highly sedentary lifestyle among athletes and highly active individuals also puts them at the same risks for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease as their less active, or non-athlete, peers.
APPLICATIONS IN SPORT
Often, many sport professionals assume young athletes to be apparently healthy and at low risk for cardio-metabolic health risks. The current study and previous literature elucidates that assumption to be incorrect. When an individual is highly sedentary for the majority of waking hours, the literature presents ample evidence showing the risk to all individuals, independent of high MVPA and fitness, as well as age.
Athletes and coaches often discourage regular LPA during rest between workout and practice sessions, as well as competitions. This is due to the assumption that recovery from sport-related activities may be hampered (12). Nevertheless, additional LPA does not adversely affect physiological recovery; in fact, it facilitates better recovery (21). Furthermore, high daily energy expenditure from high MVPA does not metabolically compensate for an overall sedentary lifestyle (1). Hence the evidence in the literature showing the high risk for all-cause mortality and all-cause cardiovascular disease despite the PA and age of most young, college, and professional athletes.
Coaches, as well as other athletics program staff, should use this knowledge to develop appropriate interventions to reduce daily sitting time among athletes. Athletics staff have the ability to encourage athletes to be more leisurely active, via more breaks from sitting behaviors and participating in LPA leisure activities outside of one’s sport. Reducing daily sitting time and related behaviors among athletes may not only improve the health of athletes, but also reduce risk of injury through facilitated recovery and joint range of motion.
The authors have no competing interests and no funding from any institution or organization was received for this work.
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