Why the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines Should Reflect Sex and Gender

Anna Liwander, Ann Pederson, Ellexis Boyle


The world’s first evidence-based sedentary behaviour guidelines were released in Canada in 2011. Based on evidence that time spent in sedentary pursuits poses important health risks, the guidelines recommend limits on the time that children and youth are sedentary throughout the day. Although the guidelines reflect differences in age, they do not include recommendations for adults, nor engage with other important determinants of health such as sex and gender, despite research suggesting that girls and boys, women and men, engage in different sedentary behaviours. For example, it has been suggested that girls spend considerable time in communication-based sedentary behaviours such as talking on the phone, texting and instant messaging, while boys are more likely to watch television and videos, or play computer games. There is also evidence suggesting that the health outcomes associated with sedentary behaviour differ for females and males, and there are gendered social and economic barriers that may influence sedentary behaviour. It is therefore time to consider sex and gender in research and policy on sedentary behaviour in order to effectively reduce time spent sedentary and to improve the health of women and men in Canada.


Sedentary behaviour; sex; gender; health promotion; policy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.104.4108