What do older people do when sitting and why? Implications for decreasing sedentary behaviour

Palmer, V. J., Gray, C. M. , Fitzsimons, C. F., Mutrie, N., Wyke, S. , Deary, I. J., Der, G. , Chastin, S. F.M. and Skelton, D. A. (2019) What do older people do when sitting and why? Implications for decreasing sedentary behaviour. Gerontologist, 59(4), pp. 686-697. (doi: 10.1093/geront/gny020) (PMID:29771308) (PMCID:PMC6630262)

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Background and Objectives: Sitting less can reduce older adults’ risk of ill health and disability. Effective sedentary behavior interventions require greater understanding of what older adults do when sitting (and not sitting), and why. This study compares the types, context, and role of sitting activities in the daily lives of older men and women who sit more or less than average. Research Design and Methods: Semistructured interviews with 44 older men and women of different ages, socioeconomic status, and objectively measured sedentary behavior were analyzed using social practice theory to explore the multifactorial, inter-relational influences on their sedentary behavior. Thematic frameworks facilitated between-group comparisons. Results: Older adults described many different leisure time, household, transport, and occupational sitting and non-sitting activities. Leisure-time sitting in the home (e.g., watching TV) was most common, but many non-sitting activities, including “pottering” doing household chores, also took place at home. Other people and access to leisure facilities were associated with lower sedentary behavior. The distinction between being busy/not busy was more important to most participants than sitting/not sitting, and informed their judgments about high-value “purposeful” (social, cognitively active, restorative) sitting and low-value “passive” sitting. Declining physical function contributed to temporal sitting patterns that did not vary much from day-to-day. Discussion and Implications: Sitting is associated with cognitive, social, and/or restorative benefits, embedded within older adults’ daily routines, and therefore difficult to change. Useful strategies include supporting older adults to engage with other people and local facilities outside the home, and break up periods of passive sitting at home.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: This work was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (LLHW) [MR/K025023/1]. LBC1936 data collection was supported by Age UK [G1001245/96077] and MRC [Mr/M01311/1], undertaken within the University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and MRC as part of the LLHW [MR/K026992/1]. The West of Scotland Twenty-07 data collection was supported by the MRC and undertaken by the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit [MC_A540_53462].
Keywords:Qualitative, social practice model, ecological model, intervention, experiences.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wyke, Professor Sally and Gray, Professor Cindy and Der, Mr Geoffrey and Palmer, Dr Victoria
Authors: Palmer, V. J., Gray, C. M., Fitzsimons, C. F., Mutrie, N., Wyke, S., Deary, I. J., Der, G., Chastin, S. F.M., and Skelton, D. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Gerontologist
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1758-5341
Published Online:15 May 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Gerontologist 2018
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
620531Seniors - understanding sedentary behaviourGeoffrey DerMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/K025023/1IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU