While physical activity is advocated for the elderly, little is known about the patterns of habitual activity of older people, particularly those in aged care. This study employed a novel approach to analyzing activity data to compare the temporal characteristics of daily activity between 15 older people living at home with 16 living in an aged care facility.
The time spent standing and walking, and the number and duration of upright activity periods (greater than 1 minute) were monitored for 72 hr continuously.
Despite variation in all measures across the participants, those living in aged care spent significantly less time upright per day (2.3 hr vs. 7.2 hr), standing (1.6 hr vs. 5 hr), and walking (0.7 hr vs. 2.2 hr) than those living at home. Participants in both groups had a similar number of activity periods; however, the median activity period duration was less for those living in aged care (4 min vs. 8 min).
Activity levels of both groups were low compared with recommendations. In particular, aged care residents were rarely upright for 30 min continuously, supporting the need for services to promote physical activity of older people particularly those living in aged care facilities.
The authors are with the School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.