Gender and Age Differences in Hourly and Daily Patterns of Sedentary Time in Older Adults Living in Retirement Communities

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 21;10(8):e0136161. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136161. eCollection 2015.


Background: Total sedentary time varies across population groups with important health consequences. Patterns of sedentary time accumulation may vary and have differential health risks. The purpose of this study is to describe sedentary patterns of older adults living in retirement communities and illustrate gender and age differences in those patterns.

Methods: Baseline accelerometer data from 307 men and women (mean age = 84±6 years) who wore ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers for ≥ 4 days as part of a physical activity intervention were classified into bouts of sedentary time (<100 counts per minute). Linear mixed models were used to account for intra-person and site-level clustering. Daily and hourly summaries were examined in mutually non-exclusive bouts of sedentary time that were 1+, 5+, 10+, 20+, 30+, 40+, 50+, 60+, 90+ and 120+ minutes in duration. Variations by time of day, age and gender were explored.

Results: Men accumulated more sedentary time than women in 1+, 5+, 10+, 20+, 30+, 40+, 50+ and 60+ minute bouts; the largest gender-differences were observed in 10+ and 20+ minute bouts. Age was positively associated with sedentary time, but only in bouts of 10+, 20+, 30+, and 40+ minutes. Women had more daily 1+ minute sedentary bouts than men (71.8 vs. 65.2), indicating they break up sedentary time more often. For men and women, a greater proportion of time was spent being sedentary during later hours of the day than earlier. Gender differences in intra-day sedentary time were observed during morning hours with women accumulating less sedentary time overall and having more 1+ minute bouts.

Conclusions: Patterns identified using bouts of sedentary time revealed gender and age differences in the way in which sedentary time was accumulated by older adults in retirement communities. Awareness of these patterns can help interventionists better target sedentary time and may aid in the identification of health risks associated with sedentary behavior. Future studies should investigate the impact of patterns of sedentary time on healthy aging, disease, and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Retirement / psychology*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sex Factors