Sedentary behavior and exercise represent two ways of viewing the question of how much physical activity an individual gets in a day. Modern lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary as we spend more time sitting in front our computers, our televisions, in our cars, and playing video games. Likewise, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (the CDC), “Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.” In the meantime, the evidence base for physical activity as one of the best means of warding off chronic disease and mobility restriction continues to grow.
We believe the issue needs to be addressed in two parallel ways. First, research needs to continue on understanding how physical activity – or lack of it – affects our bodies. As we understand these mechanisms more fully, we will be able to target our activities in the ways that most positively affect health and quality of life. Second, we need to act on the large body of research that already exists. Both the scientific community and the public at large recognize that higher levels of activities are healthier – but activity levels are not rising significantly. This takes our work beyond the confines of medical research and asks questions about motivation, policy, business, and education. We believe that the breadth and quality of expertise represented in our over 130 Stanford Faculty Affiliates positions us well to make a significant and lasting impact in this area.