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Physical activity among hospitalised older people: insights from upper and lower limb accelerometry

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard DoddsORCiD, Professor Avan SayerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BackgroundFew studies have explored the activity levels of hospitalised older people and the intra-daily activity patterns in this group have not been described.AimsTo describe the quantity and daily pattern of physical activity among hospitalised older people using two accelerometers: the ankle-worn StepWatch Activity Monitor (SAM), and the wrist-worn GENEActiv.MethodsThis cross-sectional observational study was conducted on the acute medical wards for older people in one UK hospital. Inclusion criteria: participants aged ≥ 70 years, and able to mobilise prior to admission. Participants wore both devices for up to seven consecutive days, or until hospital discharge, whichever was sooner. Intra-daily activity levels were analysed hourly over each 24 h period.Results38 participants (mean age 87.8 years, SD 4.8) had their activity levels measured using both devices. The SAM median daily step count was 600 (IQR 240–1427). Intra-daily activity analysis showed two peak periods of ambulatory activity between 9 am–11 am and 6 pm–7 pm. With physical activity defined as ≥ 12 milli-g (GENEActiv), the median time spent above this cut-off point was 4.2 h. 62% of this activity time was only sustained for 1–5 min. Acceptability of both devices was high overall, but the wrist-worn device (96%) was more acceptable to patients than the ankle-worn device (83%).ConclusionActivity levels of these hospitalised older people were very low. Most physical activity was sustained over short periods. The intra-daily pattern of activity is an interesting finding which can help clinicians implement time-specific interventions to address the important issue of sedentary behaviour.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lim SER, Dodds R, Bacon D, Sayer AA, Roberts HC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

Year: 2018

Volume: 30

Issue: 11

Pages: 1363-1369

Print publication date: 01/11/2018

Online publication date: 14/03/2018

Acceptance date: 06/03/2018

Date deposited: 19/03/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1720-8319

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s40520-018-0930-0


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