Background: Older adults spend most of their waking hours performing sedentary activities. The influence of these lifestyle patterns on the physical fitness (PF) levels of this population has not yet been sufficiently investigated.
Objective: The aim of the study was to examine whether sedentary behavior (SB) (h•d-1sitting) is associated with PF, and specifically to analyze whether sitting >4 h•d-1 is associated with higher risk of having lower levels of fitness in seniors.
Design: EXERNET multi-center study.
Participants and settings: A representative sample of 3136 non-institutionalized elderly (aged 72.2±5.3 years), from 6 Regions of Spain were included in the study.
Measurements: PF was assessed using 8 different tests from the EXERNET battery. Lifestyle patterns were collected using a validated questionnaire. ANOVA was used to compare the groups according to the hours of sitting. Binary logistic regression was used to calculate the association between the SB and low levels of fitness.
Results: For both genders, those who spent sitting >4 h•d-1 had lower levels of balance, agility, walking speed and aerobic endurance (p<0.001). Sedentary men also had less strength of lower extremities (p<0.05), whereas, sedentary women were less flexible in the lower extremities (p<0.001). More than 4 h•d-1 sitting was associated, in men, to higher odds for having low strength (lower extremities), agility, flexibility (lower extremities) and aerobic endurance (p<0.05); and in women, to higher risk of low balance, strength (lower and upper extremities), flexibility (lower extremities), agility, walking speed and aerobic endurance (p<0.05).
Conclusions: Seniors that sit >4 h•d-1 have lower levels of fitness and this behavior is related with an increased risk of having low levels of PF in this population.
Keywords: Lifestyle; aging; functional capacity; health; physical activity.