Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 943–950 | Cite as

Patterns of sedentary behavior and physical function in older adults

  • Keith P. Gennuso
  • Keith M. Thraen-Borowski
  • Ronald E. Gangnon
  • Lisa H. Colbert
Original Article



The purposes of this study were to examine the relationship between various objectively measured sedentary behavior (SB) variables and physical function in older adults, examine the measurement properties of an SB questionnaire, and describe the domains of SB in our sample.


Forty-four older adults (70 ± 8 years, 64 % female) had their SB measured via activPAL activity monitor and SB questionnaire for 1 week followed by performance-based tests of physical function.


The pattern of SB was more important than total SB time. Where a gender by SB interaction was found, increasing time in SB and fewer breaks were associated with worse function in the males only. The SB questionnaire had acceptable test–retest reliability but poor validity compared to activPAL-measured SB. The majority of SB time was spent watching television, using the computer and reading.


This study provides further evidence for the association between SB and physical function and describes where older adults are spending their sedentary time. This information can be used in the design of future intervention to reduce sedentary time and improve function in older adults.


Sedentary lifestyle Functionally impaired elderly Aging Physical activity Activities of daily living 


Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest. This work was supported by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education Virginia Horne Henry Committee Research Grant; and by the Coca-Cola Company Doctoral Student Grant on Behavior Research Fund from the American College of Sports Medicine Foundation.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wisconsin Population Health InstituteMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics and Medical InformaticsUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  5. 5.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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