Annual, seasonal, cultural and vacation patterns in sleep, sedentary behaviour and physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ty Ferguson, Rachel Curtis, Francois Fraysse, Rajini Lagiseti, Celine Northcott, Rosa Virgara, Amanda Watson, Carol A. Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Time spent in daily activities (sleep, sedentary behaviour and physical activity) has important consequences for health and wellbeing. The amount of time spent varies from day to day, yet little is known about the temporal nature of daily activity patterns in adults. The aim of this review is to identify the annual rhythms of daily activity behaviours in healthy adults and explore what temporal factors appear to influence these rhythms. Methods: Six online databases were searched for cohort studies exploring within-year temporal patterns (e.g. season effects, vacation, cultural festivals) in sleep, sedentary behaviour or physical activity in healthy 18 to 65-year-old adults. Screening, data extraction, and risk of bias scoring were performed in duplicate. Extracted data was presented as mean daily minutes of each activity type, with transformations performed as needed. Where possible, meta-analyses were performed using random effect models to calculate standardised mean differences (SMD). Results: Of the 7009 articles identified, 17 studies were included. Studies were published between 2003 and 2019, representing 14 countries and 1951 participants, addressing variation in daily activities across season (n = 11), Ramadan (n = 4), vacation (n = 1) and daylight savings time transitions (n = 1). Meta-analyses suggested evidence of seasonal variation in activity patterns, with sleep highest in autumn (+ 12 min); sedentary behaviour highest in winter (+ 19 min); light physical activity highest in summer (+ 19 min); and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity highest in summer (+ 2 min) when compared to the yearly mean. These trends were significant for light physical activity in winter (SMD = − 0.03, 95% CI − 0.58 to − 0.01, P = 0.04). Sleep appeared 64 min less during, compared to outside Ramadan (non-significant). Narrative analyses for the impact of vacation and daylight savings suggested that light physical activity is higher during vacation and that sleep increases after the spring daylight savings transition, and decreases after the autumn transition. Conclusions: Research into temporal patterns in activity behaviours is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that seasonal changes and periodic changes to usual routine, such as observing religious events, may influence activity behaviours across the year. Further research measuring 24-h time use and exploring a wider variety of temporal factors is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1384
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adults
  • Cultural patterns
  • Physical activity
  • Seasonal
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Sleep
  • Systematic review
  • Temporal patterns
  • Time-use
  • Vacation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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