Older adults' time in sedentary, light and moderate intensity activities and correlates: application of Australian Time Use Survey

Paola T. Espinel, Josephine Y. Chau, Hidde P. van der Ploeg, Dafna Merom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Understanding how older adults spend their time between active and sedentary activities is an important aspect of healthy ageing. This study examined the time spent in all-domains of sedentary, light and moderate intensity physical activities in old age and identified high-risk groups. Design: A cross-sectional analysis of Australian 2006 Time Use Survey. Methods: Participants comprised non-working older adults with at least one 24-h time use diary (n= 992). Primary activities were recoded by activity domain and intensity. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to calculate the odds ratios of having high sedentary time, low light-intensity physical activity (LIPA), and being insufficiently active (<30 min/day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, MVPA) by sociodemographic variables. Results: Older adults spent 223 and 121 min/day of their waking time in LIPA and MVPA, respectively, mostly (88%) attributed to household chores. One third of participants spent ≥600 min/day in sedentary activities, 63% spent ≥180 min/day in LIPA, 85% achieved sufficient levels of MVPA by all domains, but only 30% of participants by the leisure/transport domains. Neither age nor socio-economic indicators were associated with insufficient MVPA. Marital status and living arrangement were significant correlates of low MVPA and LIPA but moderated by gender. The only correlate of high sedentary time (>10 h/day) was disability or long-term health condition. Conclusions: The majority of older Australians are sufficiently active when considering all domains. Household domain is the main source of LIPA and MVPA. In old age, prolonged sitting is associated with disability. Marital status and living arrangements can be used to identify physically inactive seniors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Light-intensity
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary
  • Time use


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