Role of objectively measured sedentary behaviour in physical performance, frailty and mortality among older adults: A short systematic review

Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Aug;17(7):940-953. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2017.1327983. Epub 2017 May 22.


Sedentary behaviour (SB) has recently emerged as an independent risk factor for different health outcomes. Older adults accumulate long time in SB. Understanding the role that SB plays on health is crucial for a successful aging. This short systematic review summarizes the current evidence related to the effects of objectively measured SB on frailty, physical performance and mortality in adults ≥60 years old. The literature search produced 271 records for physical performance (n = 119), frailty (n = 31), and mortality (n = 121). Finally, only 13 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. All articles but one included in the physical performance section (n = 9) showed a negative association between longer time spent in SB and physical performance. A significant association of SB with higher odds of frailty was found, however this association disappeared after adjusting for cognitive status. Lastly, two of the three included studies showed positive associations between SB and mortality, but this effect decreased or even disappeared in the more adjusted models. In conclusion, there is consistency that SB is negatively associated with physical performance. However, the relationship between objectively measured SB and frailty incidence and mortality rates remains unclear and deserves further research. The use of homogenous criteria to assess SB and the inclusion of more robust research designs will help clarifying the independent effects that SB could have on physical performance, frailty, and mortality. This will ultimately help designing more efficient and comprehensive physical activity guidelines for older adults.

Keywords: Sedentary lifestyle; accelerometer; elderly; frailty; mortality rates; physical function.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Frailty*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*