Physical multimorbidity and sedentary behavior in older adults: Findings from the Irish longitudinal study on ageing (TILDA)

Maturitas. 2020 Apr;134:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.01.007. Epub 2020 Jan 13.


Background: Physical multimorbidity, defined as the presence of two or more chronic physical conditions, is widespread and reduces life expectancy and quality of life in older adults. Sedentary behavior (SB) is increasingly identified as a risk factor for a range of chronic physical conditions, independent of physical activity.

Objectives: To investigate associations between physical multimorbidity and SB in older adults.

Study design: We used cross-sectional data from a population-based sample of 6903 adults aged ≥50 years who participated in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) in 2009-2011. We conducted multivariable linear and logistic regression analyses to assess associations between multimorbidity and SB.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported minutes/day of SB and high SB (≥ 8 h/day).

Results: We found that most of the 14 individual chronic physical conditions included here were associated with greater SB. Those with stroke (OR = 2.63, 95 % CI = 1.69, 4.10) and cirrhosis (OR = 2.53, 95 %CI = 1.19, 5.41) were the most likely to be classified with high SB. Time spent in SB and the prevalence of high SB increased linearly with number of chronic conditions. Multivariable regression models adjusting for sociodemographic and psychological factors, disability, social network, and physical activity showed that, compared with people with none, those with ≥4 chronic physical conditions had 1.45 times greater odds (OR = 1.45, 95 % CI = 1.09, 1.93) of high SB and higher mean minutes/day of SB (β = 21.37, 95 % CI = 5.53, 37.20).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that physical multimorbidity is associated with SB and highlight the need for prospective research to examine the directionality and mechanisms of these associations.

Keywords: Chronic illness; Disability; Pain; Physical activity; Sedentary time; Sitting.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimorbidity*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Report