Accelerometer-Determined Physical Activity in Adults and Older People


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31822cb354

Purpose: There is a lack of large-scale comparable data on the population levels of physical activity (PA) and sedentary activity. We conducted a cross-sectional population-based multicenter study to describe the levels of PA and sedentary activity and to determine adherence to current national PA recommendations in Norwegian adults and older people.

Methods: In 2008 and 2009, PA was assessed objectively for seven consecutive days using the ActiGraph GT1M accelerometer in 3867 participants age 20–85 yr. A total of 3267 participants provided valid PA assessments that met all inclusion criteria.

Results: Women and men did not differ in the overall activity levels (335 and 342 counts per minute, respectively) or in steps per day (8113 and 7951 steps per day, respectively). However, for intensity-specific PA, men accumulated significantly more minutes of sedentary activity and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) compared with women (557 vs 533 min of sedentary activity, P ≤ 0.001 and 35 vs 33 min of MVPA, P = 0.01). Both overall activity levels and steps per day remained steady with age, until 65 yr, after which activity levels declined.

Conclusions: Overall, the study sample spent 62% of their time being sedentary, 25% in low-intensity PA, 9% in lifestyle activity, and 4% in MVPA. One in five people met current national PA recommendations. These results suggest that adults and older people spend the majority of their time being sedentary and that adherence to PA recommendations is low.

Author Information

1Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, NORWAY; and 2Department of Education, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, NORWAY

Address for correspondence: Bjørge Herman Hansen, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, PO Box 4014 Ullevål Stadion, 0806 Oslo, Norway; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2011.

Accepted for publication July 2011.

©2012The American College of Sports Medicine