Accelerometer-measured sedentary and physical activity time and their correlates in European older adults: The SITLESS study

Maria Giné-Garriga, Oriol Sansano-Nadal, Mark Tully, Paolo Caserotti, Laura Coll-Planas, Dietrich Rothenbacher, Dhayana Dallmeier, Michael Denkinger, Jason Wilson, Carme Martín-Borràs, Mathias Skjødt, Kelly Ferri, Ana Claudia Farche, Emma McIntosh, Nicole Blackburn, Antoni Salvà Casanovas, Marta Roqué i Figuls

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BACKGROUND: Sedentary behavior (SB) and physical activity (PA) are important determinants of health in older adults. This study aimed to describe the composition of accelerometer-measured SB and PA in older adults, to explore self-reported context-specific SB, and to assess sociodemographic and functional correlates of engaging in higher levels of SB in participants of a multicenter study including four European countries. METHOD: One thousand three hundred and sixty community-dwelling older adults from the SITLESS study (61.8% women; 75.3 ± 6.3 years) completed a self-reported SB questionnaire and wore an ActiGraph accelerometer for 7 days. Accelerometer-determined compositional descriptive statistics were calculated. A fixed-effects regression analysis was conducted to assess the sociodemographic (country, age, sex, civil status, education, and medications) and functional (body mass index and gait speed) correlates. RESULTS: Older adults spent 78.8% of waking time in SB, 18.6% in light-intensity PA, and 2.6% in moderate-to-vigorous PA. Accelerometry showed that women engaged in more light-intensity PA and walking and men engaged in higher amounts of moderate-to-vigorous PA. Watching television and reading accounted for 47.2% of waking time. Older age, being a man, single, taking more medications, being obese and overweight, and having a slower gait speed were statistically significant correlates of more sedentary time. CONCLUSIONS: The high amount of SB of our participants justifies the need to develop and evaluate interventions to reduce sitting time. A clinically relevant change in gait speed can decrease almost 0.45 percentage points of sedentary time. The distribution of context-specific sedentary activities by country and sex showed minor differences, albeit worth noting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1754-1762
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology, Series A
Issue number9
Early online date14 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the European Union program Horizon 2020 (H2020-Grant 634270).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Compositional analysis
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Sociodemographic correlates


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