Sedentary time in older adults: A critical review of measurement, associations with health, and interventions

Jennifer L. Copeland, Maureen C. Ashe, Stuart Jh Biddle, Wendy J. Brown, Matthew Buman, Sebastien Chastin, Paul A. Gardiner, Shigeru Inoue, Barbara J. Jefferis, Koichiro Oka, Neville Owen, Luís B. Sardinha, Dawn A. Skelton, Takemi Sugiyama, Shilpa Dogra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


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. This consensus statement has been endorsed by the following societies: Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, Exercise & Sports Science Australia, Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1539
JournalBritish journal of sports medicine
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • aging/ageing
  • functional
  • intervention
  • measurement
  • sedentary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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