School-based interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour in children: a systematic review

Lynda M. Hegarty, Jacqueline L. Mair*, Karen Kirby, Elaine Murtagh, Marie H. Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Downloads (Pure)



Prolonged, uninterrupted periods of sedentary time may be associated with increased risk of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality even if the minimum recommended levels of daily physical activity are achieved. It is reported that children spend approximately 80% of their day engaged in sedentary behaviours. Since children spend a large portion of their waking time at school, school-based interventions targeting excessive or interrupted periods of sedentary time have been investigated in a number of studies. However, results of the effectiveness of studies to-date have been inconsistent.


To conduct a systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based interventions designed to reduce sedentary behaviour on objectively measured sedentary time in children.


Five electronic databases were searched to retrieve peer-reviewed studies published in English up to and including August 2015. Studies that reported objectively measured sedentary time before and after a school-based intervention to reduce sedentary time were included in the review. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration method.


Our search identified eleven papers reporting eight interventions. Studies focused on the physical environment, the curriculum, individual in-class activities, homework activities or a combination of these strategies. Three studies reported decreases in sedentary time following intervention. Study follow-up periods ranged from immediately post-intervention to 12 months. None of the studies were judged to have a low risk of bias.


Multicomponent interventions which also include the use of standing desks may be an effective method for reducing children's sedentary time in a school-based intervention. However, longer term trials are needed to determine the sustained effectiveness of such interventions on children's sedentary time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-541
Number of pages22
JournalAIMS Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Intervention
  • Children
  • School
  • Standing desks


Dive into the research topics of 'School-based interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour in children: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this