Light and sporadic physical activity overlooked by current guidelines makes older women more active than older men

Shiho Amagasa, Noritoshi Fukushima, Hiroyuki Kikuchi, Tomoko Takamiya, Koichiro Oka, Shigeru Inoue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Men are generally believed to be more physically active than women when evaluated using current physical activity (PA) guidelines, which count only moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in bouts lasting at least 10 min. However, it remains unclear men are truly more physically active provided that all-intensity PA are evaluated. This population based cross-sectional study aimed to examine gender differences in patterns of objectively-assessed PA in older adults. Methods: One thousand two hundred ten community-dwelling Japanese older adults who were originally randomly selected from residential registry of three municipalities were asked to respond a questionnaire and wear an accelerometer (HJA-350IT, Omron Healthcare). The prevalence of achieving current PA guidelines, ≥150 min/week MVPA in bouts lasting at least 10 min, was calculated. Gender differences in volume of each-intensity activity (METs-hour) were assessed by analysis of covariance after adjustment for age and wear time. Results: Data from 450 (255 men, mean 74 years) participants who had valid accelerometer data were analyzed. Women were less likely to meet the guidelines (men: 31.0, women: 21.5%; p < 0.05). However, women accumulated more light-intensity PA (LPA) and short-bout (1-9 min) MVPA, and thus established higher total volume of PA (men: 22.0 METs-hour/day, women: 23.9 METs-hour/day) (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Older women were less active when evaluated against current PA guidelines, but more active by total PA. Considering accumulated evidence on health benefits of LPA and short-bout MVPA, our findings highlight the potential for the limitation of assessing PA using current PA guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 2


  • Accelerometry
  • Elderly
  • Epidemiology
  • Guideline
  • Physical activity
  • Recommendation
  • Sedentary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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