Exploring the context of sedentary behaviour in older adults (what, where, why, when and with whom)

Calum Leask, Juliet A. Harvey, Dawn A. Skelton, Sebastien F.M. Chastin

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56 Citations (Scopus)
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Older adults are the most sedentary segment of the population. Little information is available about the context of sedentary behaviour to inform guidelines and intervention. There is a dearth of information about when, where to intervene and which specific behaviours intervention should target. The aim of this exploratory study was to obtain objective information about what older adults do when sedentary, where and when they are sedentary and in what social context.

The study was a cross-sectional data collection. Older adults (Mean age = 73.25, SD ± 5.48, median = 72, IQR = 11) volunteers wore activPAL monitors and a Vicon Revue timelapse camera between 1 and 7 days. Periods of sedentary behaviour were identified using the activPAL and the context extracted from the pictures taken during these periods. Analysis of context was conducted using the Sedentary Behaviour International Taxonomy classification system.

In total, 52 days from 36 participants were available for analysis. Participants spent 70.1 % of sedentary time at home, 56.9 % of sedentary time on their own and 46.8 % occurred in the afternoon. Seated social activities were infrequent (6.9 % of sedentary bouts) but prolonged (18 % of sedentary time). Participants appeared to frequently have vacant sitting time (41 % of non-screen sedentary time) and screen sitting was prevalent (36 % of total sedentary time).

This study provides valuable information to inform future interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour. Interventions should consider targeting the home environment and focus on the afternoon sitting time, though this needs confirmation in a larger study. Tackling social isolation may also be a target to reduce sedentary time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Review of Aging and Physical Activity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2015


  • Accelerometer
  • Camera
  • Inclinometer
  • Lifelogging
  • Seniors
  • Sitting


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