Learning Objective 1: Describe physical activity patterns in sedentary older women residing in the U.S.
Learning Objective 2: Explain the international recommendations for physical activity in older adults.
Making physical activity (PA) an integral part of daily life is imperative to the health and well-being of older adults worldwide. Older women are reported as the most sedentary of any population group; yet, objective data measures of older women’s free-living PA using the most accurate methods to-date, such as tri-axial accelerometers, are sorely lacking. In this study, we described baseline values of objective measures for PA in older women and compare them to internationally recognized recommendations for the participants enrolled to-date (n=22).
Women older than 60 years of age, who did not engage in regular physical activity, were recruited to participate in a randomized clinical trial of a multi-tailored intervention to increase lifestyle PA. Baseline energy expenditure in METs or metabolic equivalent of tasks, activity minutes, and intensity levels were measured by the GT3X+ tri-axial Actigraphy monitor over a 7-day wear period.
When compared with resting metabolic rate or a MET of 1.0, the overall mean for 7 days of wear time (not including sleep) was 1.08 (Standard Deviation 0.05) METs, indicating extreme sedentary behavior. Mean kilocalories expended per day were 292, indicating a value much less than the 521 kcal/d recommended. Mean minutes per day of activity in sedentary behavior was 663 (SD 106); light activity 157 (SD 31); with little moderate intensity activity 15 (SD 12); and no participation in vigorous intensity activity.
Findings indicate that this group of older women in the U.S. are in a health crisis because of their lack of habitual PA, which contributes to heart disease, chronic illness, and loss of function associated with aging. Strategies to engage older women in regular PA are critically needed. Our ongoing trial will test a tailored intervention to improve habitual PA in older women.