Research Article: Association of objectively measured sedentary behavior and physical activity with cardiometabolic risk markers in older adults

Date Published: January 18, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Thamara Hübler Figueiró, Gabriel Claudino Budal Arins, Carla Elane Silva dos Santos, Francieli Cembranel, Paulo Adão de Medeiros, Eleonora d’Orsi, Cassiano Ricardo Rech, Guillermo López Lluch.


The aim of this study was to examine the associations between sedentary behavior and different intensities of physical activity with cardiometabolic risk, and to analyze the simultaneous effect of excess sedentary behavior and recommended levels of physical activity on cardiometabolic risk markers in older adults.

We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study on a sample of older adults (60+) living in Florianopolis, Brazil. The objectively measured predictors were sedentary time, light physical activity and moderate to vigorous physical activity, and the outcomes were markers of cardiometabolic risk. Data were considered valid when the participant had used the accelerometer for at least four days per week.

The sample included 425 older adults (59.8% women), with a mean age of 73.9 years (95%CI: 73.5–74.4). Sedentary behavior was associated with lower systolic blood pressure levels (β = -0.03; 95%CI: -0.05; -0.01) and lower HDL cholesterol (β = -0.02; 95%CI: -0.02; -0.01). Light physical activity was not associated with any cardiovascular risk markers after adjustment. Each minute spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity was associated with lower waist circumference (β = -0.15; 95%CI: -0.24; -0.05), systolic blood pressure (β = -0.18; 95%CI: -0.32; -0.04) and plasma glucose (β = -0.18; 95%CI: -0.33;-0.02), and with higher HDL cholesterol (β = 0.10; 95%CI: 0.01; 0.18). Moreover, physically inactive and sedentary individuals had a greater mean waist circumference and lower HDL cholesterol than physically active and non-sedentary subjects.

The results suggest that moderate to vigorous physical activity have a positive impact on cardiometabolic risk markers in older adults. Light physical activity does not appear to have a beneficial effect on the cardiometabolic markers, and despite the benefits provided by the different intensities of physical activity, the simultaneous presence of sedentary behavior and low physical activity level was associated with poor cardiometabolic risk markers.

Partial Text

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a leading cause of death in the world and represent an important public health problem [1]. In 2015, about 28% of deaths in the Americas were attributed to CVD. Among the elderly, two out of five deaths are caused by this group of diseases [2]. The risk of CVD is higher among individuals with altered cardiometabolic indicators, such as a greater waist circumference (WC) [3], higher blood pressure [4] and high concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) [5].

This was a cross-sectional study that used data from the second wave of the “Health Conditions of Older Adults in Florianópolis (EpiFloripa Idoso Study)” conducted in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Southern Brazil. The study included older adults aged 60 years and older of both genders living in the urban area. The city is the capital of Santa Catarina state and is characterized by a high Human Development Index compared to the national Brazilian average (0.847 versus 0.755) [23].

The sample included 425 older adults (59.8% women) with valid accelerometer and cardiometabolic data, who ranged in age from 63 to 92 years, with a mean age of 73.9 (95%CI: 73.5–74.4). Overall, the participants had 1 to 4 years of schooling (31.4%) and there was a predominance of non-smokers (59.2%), non-consumers of alcohol (49.6%) and subjects with three or more comorbidities (56.1%) (Table 1).

The results show a significant association between different intensities of PA and SB and markers of cardiometabolic risk in older adults. A longer time spent in SB was found to be associated with lower HDL-c and SBP levels, regardless of the practice of PA. On the other hand, a longer time spent in MVPA was associated with lower WC and blood glucose levels and higher HDL-c concentrations regardless of sedentary behavior, while a longer time spent in LPA was not associated with any cardiometabolic risk markers. In addition, the simultaneous presence of excess SB (> 10 h/day) and failure to achieve PA recommendations (< 150 min/week of MVPA) was related to greater WC and lower HDL-c levels. These results reinforce available evidence that the effects of SB and PA are independent [35], acting differently on cardiometabolic risk markers in older adults according to the time spent in SB and PA of different intensities. Thus, in addition to the characteristics of this population, it is important to clarify the role of synergistic effects of excessive sedentary time and low levels of MVPA on outcomes such as abdominal obesity and HDL-c.   Source:


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