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A review of the prevalence of sedentarism in older adults, its physiology/health impact and non-exercise mobility counter-measures

Wullems, JA and Verschueren, SMP and Degens, H and Morse, CI and Onambele (Pearson), GL (2016) A review of the prevalence of sedentarism in older adults, its physiology/health impact and non-exercise mobility counter-measures. Biogerontology. ISSN 1573-6768

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Abstract

This literature review focuses on aspects of sedentary behaviour (SB) in elderly. Since it has been identified as a distinct health risk, independent of physical activity, SB is demonstrating as being a significant issue. This is particularly true for an ageing population as evidence shows that older adults (aged ≥65 years) are the most sedentary age group (on average 8.5-9.6 hours daily sitting time). Accurate SB assessment is important for understanding this habitual behaviour and its impact. However, SB measurement is challenging, regardless of the method used. Although negative associations of SB in elderly have been reported for several health outcomes, evidence is inconclusive, apart from the evidence on the adverse SB effect on the all-cause mortality rate. Generally, strategies have been proposed to counteract SB, of which breaking prolonged sedentary bouts with at least light-intensity physical activity seems to be the most promising. Overall, further research in elderly is required to increase the evidence and to either support or refute the current findings. Moreover, further research will help to develop informed SB guidelines for an optimal strategy to counteract SB and its health effects in older adults.

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