Understanding Variations in the Health Consequences of Sedentary Behavior: A Taxonomy of Social Interaction, Novelty, Choice, and Cognition

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Wendell C. Taylor
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The study of sedentary behaviors requires taxonomies (classification schemes) to standardize data collection, measurements, and outcomes. Three taxonomies of sedentary behaviors have been identified, but none address an important challenge in sedentary behavior research, which is to distinguish between beneficial and detrimental health effects of various sedentary behaviors. Some sedentary behaviors (e.g., reading) are associated with positive health outcomes, whereas other sedentary behaviors (e.g., television viewing) are associated with adverse health outcomes. To address directly this complexity and present a different conception and understanding of discrepant findings related to health outcomes, a new taxonomy is needed. The development of the new taxonomy is guided by analysis of literature and selection of a relevant and informative behavioral sciences theoretical framework (i.e., self-determination theory). Because older adults are an increasing percentage of the population and report a high prevalence of sedentary behaviors, the new taxonomy was designed for older adults with potential application to all age groups. Taylor’s taxonomy of sedentary behaviors is parsimonious with four domains: social interaction (i.e., not solitary, companionship, interacting, and connecting with others); novelty (i.e., refreshingly new, unusual, or different); choice (i.e., volition, preferred option or alternative, the power, freedom, or decision to choose); and cognition (i.e., mentally stimulating and engaging).

Taylor (wetaylor@utmb.edu) is with the Department of Preventive Medicine and Population Health, Institute for Bioethics and Health Humanities, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.

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