To investigate the associations of time spent sedentary, in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) and physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) with physical capability measures at age 60-64 years.
Time spent sedentary and in MVPA and, PAEE were assessed using individually calibrated combined heart rate and movement sensing among 1727 participants from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development in England, Scotland and Wales as part of a detailed clinical assessment undertaken in 2006-2010. Multivariable linear regression models were used to examine the cross-sectional associations between standardised measures of each of these behavioural variables with grip strength, chair rise and timed up-&-go (TUG) speed and standing balance time.
Greater time spent in MVPA was associated with higher levels of physical capability; adjusted mean differences in each capability measure per 1standard deviation increase in MVPA time were: grip strength (0.477 kg, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.015 to 0.939), chair rise speed (0.429 stands/min, 95% CI: 0.093 to 0.764), standing balance time (0.028 s, 95% CI: 0.003 to 0.053) and TUG speed (0.019 m/s, 95% CI: 0.011 to 0.026). In contrast, time spent sedentary was associated with lower grip strength (-0.540 kg, 95% CI: -1.013 to -0.066) and TUG speed (-0.011 m/s, 95% CI: -0.019 to -0.004). Associations for PAEE were similar to those for MVPA.
Higher levels of MVPA and overall physical activity (PAEE) are associated with greater levels of physical capability whereas time spent sedentary is associated with lower levels of capability. Future intervention studies in older adults should focus on both the promotion of physical activity and reduction in time spent sedentary.