Academy of Sport - Acadamaidh Spòrs Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann

Why we should sit less and walk more

Details of Professor Nanette Mutrie's inaugural lecture.

Event details

Lecture title: "Encouraging people to ‘sit less and walk more’: the story so far and future plans."

Date: 10 December 2013

Time: 5.15pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 270, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

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Lecture abstract

In this lecture I will explain why 'sit less and walk more' is the byline of the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre and demonstrate what we have learned so far about encouraging people in related behaviour change. For over a decade I have been working with my colleagues and students [happily some of those students are now my colleagues!] in determining the best ways to help people put more walking into their lives. We have found pedometers to be very useful devices that can help people monitor their activity, providing goals are set correctly (1, 2). We have applied our findings successfully to community groups, to older adults (3), and to football fans. Such approaches have been shown to be cost effective (4). Current projects involve people with learning disabilities, rugby fans and European football fans and future plans involve people with visual impairments and those engaged in workplace challenges.

We know less about encouraging people to sit less. We have only just learned that extended periods of sitting might be detrimental to health, even for those who are active. In this section I will report on how we have applied our knowledge of helping people walk more to this new behavior and show results from our Beltane Parliamentary engagement project on this topic (5). Current projects in this area relate to ‘encouraging seniors to stand up’ and to creating a feedback device [similar to a pedometer] that will help people monitor their 'sitting down' time. I will conclude by inviting people to consider if any of this applies to them!


1. Baker G, Gray S, Wright A, Fitzsimons C, Nimmo M, Lowry R, et al. The effect of a pedometer-based community walking intervention "Walking for Wellbeing in the West" on physical activity levels and health outcomes: a 12-week randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2008;5(1):44-9. PubMed PMID: doi:10.1186/1479-5868-5-44.

2. Fitzsimons C, Baker G, Gray S, Nimmo M, Mutrie N, The Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration. Does physical activity counselling enhance the effects of a pedometer-based intervention over the long-term: 12-month findings from the Walking for Wellbeing in the West study. Bmc Public Health. 2012;12(1):206. PubMed PMID: doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-206.

3. Mutrie N, Doolin O, Fitzsimons CF, Grant PM, Granat M, Grealy M, et al. Increasing older adults’ walking through primary care: results of a pilot randomized controlled trial. Family Practice. 2012 July 28, 2012;29 (6):633-42. Epub first published online July 28, 2012.

4. Shaw R, Fenwick E, Baker G, McAdam C, Fitzsimons C, Mutrie N. 'Pedometers cost buttons': the feasibility of implementing a pedometer based walking programme within the community. Bmc Public Health. 2011;11(1):200. PubMed PMID: doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-200.

5. Fitzsimons C, Kirk A, Michie F, Kane C, Mutrie N. Using an individualised consultation and activPAL™ feedback to reduce sedentary time in older Scottish adults: Results of a feasibility and pilot study. Preventative Medicine. 2013;13:S0091-7435.

Lecture video

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