Older Adults' Daily Step Counts and Time in Sedentary Behavior and Different Intensities of Physical Activity

J Epidemiol. 2021 May 5;31(5):350-355. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20200080. Epub 2020 Nov 25.


Background: Daily step count is the simplest measure of physical activity. However, little is known about how daily step count related to time spent in different intensities of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB).

Methods: These cross-sectional data were derived from 450 older Japanese adults (56.7% men; mean age, 74.3 years) who were randomly selected from three communities and responded a survey. Daily step count and time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), light-intensity PA (LPA), and SB were measured using a validated wearable technology (HJA-350IT). Associations of daily step count with time spent in measured behaviors were examined using linear regression models with isometric log-ratio transformations of time-use composition, adjusting for gender, age, and residential area.

Results: Participants averaged 5,412 (standard deviation, 2,878) steps/d and accumulated MVPA, LPA, and SB corresponding to 4.0%, 34.8%, and 61.2% of daily waking time, respectively. Daily step count significantly increased with increase in time spent in MVPA relative to other behaviors (ie, LPA and SB) and in the ratio of LPA to SB after allowing for MVPA. After stratification, daily step count was significantly related to the ratio of LPA to SB in those taking <5,000 steps/d, but not in those taking 5,000-7,499 and ≥7,500 steps/d.

Conclusions: Higher daily step count can be an indicator of not only larger relative contribution of time spent in MVPA, but also higher ratio between LPA and SB, particularly among those who are the least physically active.

Keywords: accelerometry; ambulatory; exercise; sedentary lifestyle; walking.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Time Factors
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*