4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/07/2013   
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Sedentary behaviour was defined as sitting or lying down for various activities, including time spent sitting at work, and time spent sitting while using computers, watching television, and for other leisure activities.

Sedentary behaviour questions asked about the concept of a ‘usual day’ to define the timeframe for work/week days rather than referring to the last week.


Information was collected for selected persons aged 15 years and over in the NHS.


This topic was collected as part of the NHS exercise module. However, data collected in this section have not contributed to physical activity level calculations.

Full-time (35 hours or more) employed respondents were asked to specify how much time they spent sitting at work on a usual work day, including meal and snack breaks and time spent sitting at a desk or in a vehicle. This was followed by asking how much time in total they usually spend sitting while watching television or using a computer before and after work.

The rest of the respondents were asked the amount of time they spend sitting while watching television or using a computer on a usual weekday.

All respondents were then asked the amount of time they spent sitting in other leisure time on a usual work/week day.

Data Items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:

  • Sedentary data are not available separately for time spent in leisure on a usual work/week day due to the potential overlap of responses (e.g. persons may have reported the same activity for 'time spent sitting at the computer' and 'time spent sitting in other leisure time').
  • Over recent years there has been an increasing focus by governments and media on health and lifestyle issues around obesity and low levels of activity. While such attention is likely to influence the levels of activity in the community, it may also have an impact on reporting behaviour; for example, creating a tendency to report what is perceived to be a desirable level of sedentary behaviour rather than the actual level. This should be considered in interpreting changes between results from 2011-12 and previous cycles.

Comparability with 2007-08 NHS

The 2011-12 NHS data on sedentary behaviour were collected with the same methodology and questions used in the 2007-08 survey, and therefore are considered directly comparable.

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