The prevalence of sedentary behaviour in older adults

Sedentary behaviour is defined as a sitting or lying posture where little energy is expended (SBRN, 2012). Over 4 hour of sedentary behaviour has been defined as a level that is sufficiently sedentary to cause health and wellbeing concerns in the older population (Dogra and Stathokostas, 2012). Whether measurements are subjective or objective, the majority of older adults are sedentary. Almost 60% of older adults reported sitting for more than 4 hours per day, when objectively measured it is found that 67% of the population are sedentary for more than 8.5 hours in their waking day (Harvey et al., 2013). When looking at specific activities carried out in a sitting or lying posture, 65% of older adults sit in front of a screen for more than 3 hours daily and over 55% report watching more than 2 hours of TV (Harvey et al., 2013).


Sedentary Behaviour Research Network. Letter to the editor: Standardized use of the terms “sedentary” and “sedentary behaviours”. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 2012, 37, 540–542.

Dogra S, Stathokostas L. Sedentary behavior and physical activity are independent predictors of successful aging in middle-aged and older adults. J. Aging Res. 2012,doi:10.1155/2012/190654.

Harvey JA, Chastin SC, Skelton DA. Prevalence of Sedentary Behavior in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2013, 10, 6645-6661.


For further information on the prevalence of sedentary behaviour please see:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or can you? Prof. Dawn Skelton’s Inaugural Lecture 11/12/13

Steps to Successful Aging.2

Physical activity and aging, with a focus on falls, was the order of the enjoyable and highly informative evening of Prof. Dawn Skelton’s inaugural lecture at Glasgow Caledonian University.   In Prof Skelton’s career she has made a massive contribution to her field and it was wonderful to see how her work has evolved from initial lab work into in integration into normal clinical practice, truly inspirational!

Therefore, the evening is difficult to sum up in a short blog!   I think the main message is you are never too old, or too young, to start reducing sedentary behaviour and increasing physical activity in order to have a happier, healthier older age.   To achieve this we are ideally looking to meet the guidelines of 150mins of moderate intensity physical activity per week made up of bouts of activity of at least 10mins, along with strength training and balance training on 2 days of the week…. And reducing sitting time!!  Of course, it was also an honour to have our work cited in Prof. Skelton’s lecture (


October Passed in a Flash!!

October Passed in a Flash!!

All of a sudden its Autumn! At the beginning of October, I attended the AHP Agents for Change Conference in Edinburgh and presented my poster on “Prevalence of Sedentary Behaviour in Older Adults”. The conference was well attended and full of exciting and interesting workshops and presentations.

At the end of October, we were lucky to have a visit from Dr Mark Tremblay,CHEO. He gave a fabulous lecture on sedentary behaviour focusing on their research in childhood and adolescent sedentary behaviour. Otherwise, I have been busy data collecting for my main study with some lovely older adults.

Waterproofing an ActivPAL Activity Monitor

An ActivPAL device measures free-living activity and can record activity continually for more than 7 days.  To allow for 24/7 activity monitoring the ActivPAL should have a waterproof covering.  This can be done quickly (in less that a minute) and easily using a heat sealer device.   

You will need:

• 1 ActivPAL
• 7.5x9cm Medical Grade Layflat Tubing
• Heat Sealant Device
• Rectangle of paper 3x5cm to identify the device, give orientation and contact information
Seal one edge of layflat tubing

Seal one edge of layflat tubing

Place ActivPAL and identifier into the packet

Place ActivPAL and identifier into the packet

Seal the open edge of the packet

Seal the open edge of the packet

Trim excess tubing

Trim excess tubing

Ready for use

Ready for use

Seven Stands to Shrink Sedentary Time

Stiff, Sore, Sluggish?

If you sit for long periods in the day, this can lead to stiffness, pain and feelings of low energy. Breaking up your sitting time with short periods of activity at regular intervals in the day can help to reduce these difficulties. Where you start will depend on your current sitting routine. Think about breaking up your sitting periods every 30 to 60 minutes with 3 to 5 minutes of activity. Take time to plan your day, here are a 7 ideas to get you started:

1. Stand up each time you answer the telephone. Perhaps try marching on the spot during your telephone conversations.
2. If you like watching TV, stand, step and stretch at each advert break.
3. Do some activity between book chapters. You might like to reflect on the chapter as you have a little walk around the room.
4. Use prompts to remind you of your goal to change your sitting time. This may be points in your daily routine, such as after meals, or you may wish to set a timer that will go off at set periods of time in the day.
5. Take advantage of the summer weather and take short walks outside frequently in the day.
6. Involve others and tell people what you are doing.
7. A little addition to all knitting patterns:
a. Knit one
b. Pearl one
c. Stand one…


If you feel it is important to change your sitting behaviour, what ideas will you use? What ideas can you come up with?

Start where you are, do what you can, use what you have!


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