Open Access Research article

Sitting time in Germany: an analysis of socio-demographic and environmental correlates

Birgit Wallmann-Sperlich12*, Jens Bucksch3, Sylvia Hansen4, Peter Schantz56 and Ingo Froboese12

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Health Promotion and Clinical Movement Science, German Sports University, Köln, D-50933, Germany

2 Centre for Health, German Sports University Cologne, Köln, D-50933, Germany

3 WHO Collaborating Centre for Child and Adolescent Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, D-33615, Germany

4 Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, 6229 ER, The Netherlands

5 The Research Unit for Movement, Health and Environment, The Åstrand Laboratory, GIH – The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, SE-114 86, Sweden

6 Department of Health Sciences, Mid-Sweden University, Östersund, SE- 831 25, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:196  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-196

Published: 6 March 2013



Sedentary behaviour in general and sitting time in particular is an emerging global health concern. The aim of this study was to provide data on the prevalence of sitting time in German adults and to examine socio-demographic and environmental correlates of sitting time.


A representative sample of German adults (n = 2000; 967 men, 1033 women; 49.3 ±17.6 years of age) filled in the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire, including one question on overall sitting time and answered questions about the neighbourhood environment, as well as concerning demographics. Daily sitting time was stratified by gender, age group, BMI, educational and income level, as well as physical activity (PA). To identify socio-demographic and environmental correlates of sitting time, we used a series of linear regressions.


The overall median was 5 hours (299 minutes) of sitting time/day and men sat longer than women (5 vs. 4 hours/day; p < 0.05). In both genders age and PA were negatively and the educational level positively associated with sitting time. The level of income was not a correlate of sitting time in multivariate analyses. Sitting time was significantly positively associated with higher neighbourhood safety for women. The variance of the multivariate model ranged from 16.5% for men to 8.9% for women.


The overall sitting time was unequally distributed in the German adult population. Our findings suggest implementing specific interventions to reduce sitting time for subgroups such as men, younger aged adults and adults with a higher education and lower PA. Future studies should enhance our understanding of the specific correlates of different types and domains of sitting in order to guide the development of effective public health strategies.

Sedentary behaviour; Physical activity; Perceived physical environment; Educational level; Income; Gender