Document Type


Publication Date



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 (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.


This article was originally published in PLoS ONE, volume 10, issue 8, in 2015. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136161


The authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.