Descriptive epidemiology of changes in objectively measured sedentary behaviour and physical activity: six-year follow-up of the EPIC-Norfolk cohort

Samantha Hajna, Tom White, Søren Brage, Esther M. F. van Sluijs, Kate Westgate, Andy P. Jones, Robert Luben, Kay-Tee Khaw, Nicholas J. Wareham, Simon J. Griffin

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Background: Sedentary time increases and total physical activity decreases with age. The magnitude and correlates of changes in sedentary time, light-intensity physical activity (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA), and overall physical activity remain unclear. We quantified these changes and identified their individual and sociodemographic correlates. Methods: We used data from 1259 adults (67.8 ± 6.9 years; 41.9% women) who participated in the EPIC-Norfolk Study. Activity was assessed at baseline (2004–2011) and follow-up (2012–2016) for 7 days using accelerometers. Potential correlates of change were specified a priori. We used unadjusted and adjusted sex-stratified linear regressions to identify correlates of change. Results: Only 3.7% of adults met the current MVPA recommendations. Sedentary time increased by 3.0 min/day/year (SD = 12.3). LPA, MVPA, and overall PA decreased by 1.7 min/day/year (SD = 5.4), 3.0 min/day/year (SD = 6.0), and 8.8 cpm/year (SD = 18.8), respectively. Correlates of greater rates of increase in sedentary time included older age and higher BMI in men, and older age, higher BMI, smoking, and urban dwelling in women. Correlates of greater rates of decrease in physical activity included older age, higher BMI, living alone, depression, car use, and/or fair/poor self-rated health in men, and older age, higher BMI, depression, smoking, and/or urban dwelling in women (e.g. depressed women had a 1.0 min/day/year greater rate of decline in MVPA than non-depressed women, 95% CI -1.8, − 0.2). Conclusions: Most (> 95%) adults are insufficiently active. Sedentary time increases and LPA, MVPA and overall physical activity decreases over time, with more pronounced rates of change observed in specific sub-groups (e.g. among older and depressed adults). To promote active living, the correlates of these changes should be considered in future interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2018


  • Sedentary time
  • Physical activity
  • Accelerometry

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