Diurnal pattern of breaks in sedentary time and the physical function of older adults

Ting Fu Lai, Yung Liao, Chien Yu Lin, Ming Chun Hsueh, Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Ai Shibata, Koichiro Oka, Ding Cheng Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The association of breaks in sedentary time with outcomes of physical function can vary according to the time of day. We examined the association of the diurnal pattern of breaks in sedentary time with physical function outcomes in older adults. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted among 115 older adults (≥60 years). The overall and time-specific breaks (morning: 06:00–12:00; afternoon: 12:00–18:00; evening: 18:00–24:00) in sedentary time were assessed using a triaxial accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X+). A break in sedentary time was defined as at least 1 min where the accelerometer registered ≥100 cpm following a sedentary period. Five physical function outcomes were assessed: handgrip strength (dynamometer), balance ability (single leg stance), gait speed (11-m walking), basic functional mobility (time up and go), and lower-limb strength (five times sit-to-stand). Generalized linear models were used to examine the associations of the overall and time-specific breaks in sedentary time with the physical function outcomes. Results: Participants showed an average of 69.4 breaks in sedentary time during the day. Less frequent breaks in the evening (19.3) were found than that in the morning (24.3) and the afternoon (25.3) (p < 0.05). Breaks in sedentary time during the day were associated with less time on gait speed in older adults (exp (β) = 0.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.86–0.98; p < 0.01). Time-specific analysis showed that breaks in sedentary time were associated with less time on gait speed (exp (β) = 0.94, 95% CI 0.91–0.97; p < 0.01), basic functional mobility (exp (β) = 0.93, 95% CI 0.89–0.97; p < 0.01), and lower-limb strength (exp (β) = 0.92, 95% CI 0.87–0.97; p < 0.01) in the evening only. Conclusion: A break in sedentary time, particularly during the evening, was associated with better lower extremity strength in older adults. Further strategies to interrupt sedentary time with frequent breaks, with an emphasis on evening hours, can be helpful to maintain and improve physical function in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalArchives of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Dec


  • Aging
  • Circadian clock
  • Elderly
  • Interrupting prolonged sitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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