Increasing the Energy Expenditure of Seated Activities in Older Adults with a Portable Elliptical Device

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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The ill-health effects of sedentary behavior are becoming well-documented, yet older adults spend 70–80% of waking hours sedentary.


To determine if a portable elliptical device increases energy expenditure (EE) while performing popular seated activities.


Twenty older adults (68.1 ± 1.4 years) participated to compare the measured EE between seated rest and three randomized seated pedaling activities: computer use, reading, TV viewing. Each pedaling activity included 5-min of self-selected paced/no resistance (SSP) and externally paced/added resistance pedaling (Paced).


A significant increase in EE existed during SSP (+1.44 ± 0.12 kcal/min) and Paced (+2.19 ± 0.09 kcal/min) pedaling relative to Seated Rest (p < .001). EE during the Paced activities was significantly greater than all SSP activities (p <.01).


Extrapolating these results, pedaling at a SSP for an hour while performing seated activities is equivalent to the net EE of walking 1.6 miles. Future home-based effectiveness and feasibility should be explored.

Lerma, Swartz, Rowley, and Strath are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI. Maeda is with the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI.

Address author correspondence to Nicholas L. Lerma at