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PLoS One. 2016 Apr 15;11(4):e0153779. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153779. eCollection 2016.

Objectively Measured Walking Duration and Sedentary Behaviour and Four-Year Mortality in Older People.

Author information

Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany.
Department of Geriatrics and Geriatric Rehabilitation, Robert-Bosch-Hospital, Stuttgart, Germany.
Department of Internal Medicine II-Cardiology, University of Ulm Medical Center, Ulm, Germany.
Agaplesion Bethesda Hospital, Geriatric Research Unit, Ulm University and Geriatric Center Ulm/Alb-Donau, Ulm, Germany.
Deutsches Herzzentrum München, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.
DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research), partner site Munich Heart Alliance, Munich, Germany.



Physical activity is an important component of health. Recommendations based on sensor measurements are sparse in older people. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of objectively measured walking and sedentary duration on four-year mortality in community-dwelling older people.


Between March 2009 and April 2010, physical activity of 1271 participants (≥65 years, 56.4% men) from Southern Germany was measured over one week using a thigh-worn uni-axial accelerometer (activPAL; PAL Technologies, Glasgow, Scotland). Mortality was assessed during a four-year follow-up. Cox-proportional-hazards models were used to estimate the associations between walking (including low to high intensity) and sedentary duration with mortality. Models were adjusted for age and sex, additional epidemiological variables, and selected biomarkers.


An inverse relationship between walking duration and mortality with a minimum risk for the 3rd quartile (102.2 to128.4 minutes walking daily) was found even after multivariate adjustment with HRs for quartiles 2 to 4 compared to quartile 1 of 0.45 (95%-CI: 0.26; 0.76), 0.18 (95%-CI: 0.08; 0.41), 0.39 (95%-CI: 0.19; 0.78), respectively. For sedentary duration an age- and sex-adjusted increased mortality risk was observed for the 4th quartile (daily sedentary duration ≥1137.2 min.) (HR 2.05, 95%-CI: 1.13; 3.73), which diminished, however, after full adjustment (HR 1.63, 95%-CI: 0.88; 3.02). Furthermore, our results suggest effect modification between walking and sedentary duration, such that in people with low walking duration a high sedentary duration was noted as an independent factor for increased mortality.


In summary, walking duration was clearly associated with four-year overall mortality in community-dwelling older people.

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