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Sedentary time in older adults: a critical review of measurement, associations with health, and interventions
  1. Jennifer L Copeland1,
  2. Maureen C Ashe2,
  3. Stuart JH Biddle3,
  4. Wendy J Brown4,
  5. Matthew P Buman5,
  6. Sebastien Chastin6,
  7. Paul A Gardiner4,
  8. Shigeru Inoue7,
  9. Barbara J Jefferis8,
  10. Koichiro Oka9,
  11. Neville Owen10,11,
  12. Luís B Sardinha12,
  13. Dawn A Skelton6,
  14. Takemi Sugiyama13,
  15. Shilpa Dogra14
  1. 1University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3University of Southern Queensland, Springfield, Australia
  4. 4University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  5. 5Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  6. 6Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  7. 7Tokyo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan
  8. 8University College London, London, UK
  9. 9Waseda University, Saitama, Japan
  10. 10Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  11. 11Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
  12. 12CIPER, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  13. 13Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
  14. 14University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jennifer L Copeland, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Lethbridge 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4, Canada; jennifer.copeland{at}


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.

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

Results 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.

  • sedentary
  • aging/ageing
  • measurement
  • intervention
  • functional
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  • Contributors JLC and SD take overall responsibility for the original concept and content. MCA, SJHB, WJB, MPB, SC, PAG, SI, BJJ, KO, NO, LBS, DAS and TS contributed to the content and provided expert review of the article.

  • Funding Funding for this review was provided by a Canadian Institutes for Health Research Planning and Dissemination Grant– Institute of Community Support (Institute of Gender and Health) and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

  • 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.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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