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Br J Sports Med. 2017 Nov;51(21):1539. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097210. Epub 2017 Jul 19.

Sedentary time in older adults: a critical review of measurement, associations with health, and interventions.

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University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
University of Southern Queensland, Springfield, Australia.
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.
Tokyo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan.
University College London, London, UK.
Waseda University, Saitama, Japan.
Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.
CIPER, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia.
University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.


Sedentary time (ST) is an important risk factor for a variety of health outcomes in older adults. Consensus is needed on future research directions so that collaborative and timely efforts can be made globally to address this modifiable risk factor. In this review, we examined current literature to identify gaps and inform future research priorities on ST and healthy ageing. We reviewed three primary topics:(1) the validity/reliability of self-report measurement tools, (2) the consequences of prolonged ST on geriatric-relevant health outcomes (physical function, cognitive function, mental health, incontinence and quality of life) and(3) the effectiveness of interventions to reduce ST in older adults.


A trained librarian created a search strategy that was peer reviewed for completeness.


Self-report assessment of the context and type of ST is important but the tools tend to underestimate total ST. There appears to be an association between ST and geriatric-relevant health outcomes, although there is insufficient longitudinal evidence to determine a dose-response relationship or a threshold for clinically relevant risk. The type of ST may also affect health; some cognitively engaging sedentary behaviours appear to benefit health, while time spent in more passive activities may be detrimental. Short-term feasibility studies of individual-level ST interventions have been conducted; however, few studies have appropriately assessed the impact of these interventions on geriatric-relevant health outcomes, nor have they addressed organisation or environment level changes. Research is specifically needed to inform evidence-based interventions that help maintain functional autonomy among older adults.This consensus statement has been endorsed by the following societies: Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, Exercise & Sports Science Australia, Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.


aging/ageing; functional; intervention; measurement; sedentary

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: JLC reports grants from Canadian Institutes of Health Research and from Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, during the conduct of the study. SD reports grants from Canadian Institutes for Health Research and from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology during the conduct of the study; she worked with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, outside the submitted work. SJHB reports other from Halpern PR, outside the submitted work; provision of a sit-to-stand desk from Ergotron, 2012-2014; unpaid advice given to Active Working, Get Britain Standing, and Bluearth. PAG reports grants from Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council, during the conduct of the study. None of the other authors have anything to disclose.

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