Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Physical Inactivity

  • Tyler ClarkEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_1168


Physical inactivity is the failure to meet the minimum recommended physical activity guidelines (i.e., 30-min moderate-intensity exercise on at least 5, although preferably all, days of the week or 75-min vigorous-intensity exercise to be undertaken in no less than 20-min increments thrice a week). Physical inactivity is one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 12 leading risks to health. Physical inactivity is widespread and associated with increases in all causes of mortality and is an independent risk factor for chronic diseases.

Physical inactivity differs from sedentary behavior (e.g., sitting and not moving); physical inactivity refers to not meeting the aforementioned guidelines.



The American Heart Association estimates that 60% of the world population does not meet recommended physical activity guidelines (American Heart Association, 2001). The American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 25% of adults are not active at all.


This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. American Heart Association (2009). Physical inactivity. Available at americanheart.org. Accessed December 8, 2010.Google Scholar
  2. Healey, J. (2007). Physical activity. Thirroul, N.S.W: Spinney Press.Google Scholar
  3. Taylor, S. E. (2009). Health psychology (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill. International Edition.Google Scholar
  4. World Health Organization (2011a). Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Available at http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/pa/en/index.html. Accessed January 8, 2011.
  5. World Health Organization (2011b). Physical activity. Available at: http://www.who.int/topics/physical_activity/en/. Accessed January 8, 2011.
  6. Fletcher, G. F., Balady, G. J., Amsterdam, E. A., et al. (2001). Exercise standards for testing and training: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 104:1694–1740.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia