Research Study Abstract

Duration and breaks in sedentary behaviour: accelerometer data from 1566 community-dwelling older men (British Regional Heart Study)

  • Published on Sept. 17, 2014

Background: Sedentary behaviours are increasingly recognized as raising the risk of cardiovascular disease events, diabetes and mortality, independently of physical activity levels. However, little is known about patterns of sedentary behaviour in older adults.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of 1566/3137 (50% response) men aged 71–91 years from a UK population-based cohort study. Men wore a GT3x accelerometer over the hip for 1 week in 2010–2011. Mean daily minutes of sedentary behaviours, percentage of day in sedentary behaviours, sedentary bouts and breaks were calculated and summarized by health and demographic characteristics.

Results: 1403 ambulatory men aged 78.4 years (SD=4.6 years) with ≥600 min of accelerometer wear on ≥3 days had complete data on covariables. Men spent on average 618 min (SD=83), or 72% of their day in sedentary behaviours (<100 counts/min). On average, men accumulated 72 spells of sedentary behaviours per day, with 7 breaks in each sedentary hour. Men had on average 5.1 sedentary bouts of ≥30 min, which accounted for 43% of sedentary time, and 1.4 bouts of ≥60 min, which accounted for 19% of daily sedentary time. Men who were over 80 years old, obese, depressed and had multiple chronic conditions accumulated more sedentary time and spent more time in longer sedentary bouts.

Conclusions: Older men spend nearly three quarters of their day in sedentary behaviours, mostly accumulated in short bouts, although bouts lasting ≥30 min accounted for nearly half of the sedentary time each day. Men with medical risk factors were more likely to also display sedentary behaviour.


  • Barbara J Jefferis 1,2
  • Claudio Sartini 1
  • Eric Shiroma 3
  • Peter H Whincup 4
  • S Goya Wannamethee 1
  • I-Min Lee 3


  • 1

    Department of Primary Care & Population Health, University College London Medical School, London, UK

  • 2

    Physical Activity Research Group, University College London, London, UK

  • 3

    Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

  • 4

    Division of Population Health Sciences and Education, St George's University of London, London, UK


British Journal of Sports Medicine


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