“Keeping Moving”: factors associated with sedentary behaviour among older people recruited to an exercise promotion trial in general practice

Ruth Heseltine, Dawn A. Skelton, Denise Kendrick, Richard W. Morris, Mark Griffin, Deborah Haworth, Tahir Masud, Steve Iliffe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Sedentary behaviour is detrimental to health, even in those who achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Efforts to increase physical activity in older people so that they reach beneficial levels have been disappointing. Reducing sedentary behaviour may improve health and be less demanding of older people, but it is not clear how to achieve this. We explored the characteristics of sedentary older people enrolled into an exercise promotion trial to gain insights about those who were sedentary but wanted to increase activity. 

Method: Participants in the ProAct65+ trial (2009-2013) were categorised as sedentary or not using a self-report questionnaire. Demographic data, health status, self-rated function and physical test performance were examined for each group. 1104 participants aged 65 & over were included in the secondary analysis of trial data from older people recruited via general practice. Results were analysed using logistic regression with stepwise backward elimination. 

Results: Three hundred eighty seven (35 %) of the study sample were characterised as sedentary. The likelihood of being categorised as sedentary increased with an abnormal BMI (<18.5 or >25 kg/m2) (Odds Ratio 1.740, CI 1.248-2.425), ever smoking (OR 1.420, CI 1.042-1.934) and with every additional medication prescribed (OR 1.069, CI 1.016-1.124). Participants reporting better self-rated physical health (SF-12) were less likely to be sedentary; (OR 0.961, 0.936-0.987). Participants' sedentary behaviour was not associated with gender, age, income, education, falls, functional fitness, quality of life or number of co-morbidities. 

Conclusion: Some sedentary older adults will respond positively to an invitation to join an exercise study. Those who did so in this study had poor self-rated health, abnormal BMI, a history of smoking, and multiple medication use, and are therefore likely to benefit from an exercise intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Early online date28 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • exercise promotion
  • older people
  • physical activity
  • sedentary behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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