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Juliet A. Harvey, Sebastien F.M. Chastin and Dawn A. Skelton

Background/objectives:

Sedentary behavior (SB), defined as sitting (nonexercising), reclining, and lying down (posture), or by low energy expenditure, is a public health risk independent to physical activity. The objective of this systematic literature review was to synthesize the available evidence on amount of SB reported by and measured in older adults.

Data source:

Studies published between 1981 and 2014 were identified from electronic databases and manual searching. Large-scale population studies/surveys reporting the amount of SB (objective/subjective) in older adults aged ≥ 60 years of age were included. Appraisal and synthesis was completed using MOOSE guidelines.

Results:

349,698 adults aged ≥ 60 within 22 studies (10 countries and 1 EU-wide) were included. Objective measurement of SB shows that older adults spend an average of 9.4 hr a day sedentary, equating to 65–80% of their waking day. Self-report of SB is lower, with average weighted self-reports being 5.3 hr daily. Within specific domains of SB, older adults report 3.3 hr in leisure sitting time and 3.3 hr watching TV. There is an association with more time spent in SB as age advances and a trend for older men to spend more time in SB than women.

Conclusion/implications:

Time spent sedentary ranges from 5.3–9.4 hr per waking day in older adults. With recent studies suggesting a link between SB, health, and well-being, independent of physical activity, this is an area important for successful aging.

Limitations:

Different methodologies of measurement and different reporting methods of SB made synthesis difficult. Estimated SB time from self-report is half of that measured objectively; suggesting that most self-report surveys of SB will vastly underestimate the actual time spent in SB.

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Manon L. Dontje, Calum F. Leask, Juliet Harvey, Dawn A. Skelton and Sebastien F.M. Chastin

Older adults are recommended to reduce their sedentary time to promote healthy ageing. To develop effective interventions identifying when, why, and how older adults are able to change their sitting habits is important. The aim of this mixed-method study was to improve our understanding of reasons for (breaking) sedentary behavior in older adults. Thirty older adults (74.0 [±5.3] years old, 73% women) were asked about their believed reasons for (breaking) sedentary behavior, and about their actual reasons when looking at a personal storyboard with objective records of activPAL monitor data and time-lapse camera pictures showing all their periods of sedentary time in a day. The most often mentioned believed reason for remaining sedentary was television/radio (mentioned by 48.3%), while eating/drinking was most often mentioned as actual reason (96.6%). Only 17.2% believed that food/tea preparation was a reason to break up sitting, while this was an actual reason for 82.8% of the study sample. Results of this study show that there is a discrepancy between believed and actual reasons for (breaking) sedentary behavior. These findings suggest developing interventions utilizing the actual reasons for breaking sedentary behavior to reduce sedentary time in older adults.