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Open Access Research article

Accelerometer-determined physical activity and self-reported health in a population of older adults (65–85 years): a cross-sectional study

Hilde Lohne-Seiler12*, Bjorge H Hansen1, Elin Kolle1 and Sigmund A Anderssen1

Author Affiliations

1 Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Department of Sport Medicine, P.B. 4014 Ullevaal Stadion, 0806 Oslo, Norway

2 University of Agder, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, Service Box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:284  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-284

Published: 27 March 2014



The link between physical activity (PA) and prevention of disease, maintenance of independence, and improved quality of life in older adults is supported by strong evidence. However, there is a lack of data on population levels in this regard, where PA level has been measured objectively. The main aims were therefore to assess the level of accelerometer-determined PA and to examine its associations with self-reported health in a population of Norwegian older adults (65–85 years).


This was a part of a national multicenter study. Participants for the initial study were randomly selected from the national population registry, and the current study included those of the initial sample aged 65–85 years. The ActiGraph GT1M accelerometer was used to measure PA for seven consecutive days. A questionnaire was used to register self-reported health. Univariate analysis of variance with Bonferroni adjustments were used for comparisons between multiple groups.


A total of 560 participants had valid activity registrations. Mean age (SD) was 71.8 (5.6) years for women (n = 282) and 71.7 (5.2) years for men (n = 278). Overall PA level (cpm) differed considerably between the age groups where the oldest (80–85 y) displayed a 50% lower activity level compared to the youngest (65–70 y). No sex differences were observed in overall PA within each age group. Significantly more men spent time being sedentary (65–69 and 70–74 years) and achieved more minutes of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) (75–79 years) compared to women. Significantly more women (except for the oldest), spent more minutes of low-intensity PA compared to men. PA differed across levels of self-reported health and a 51% higher overall PA level was registered in those, with “very good health” compared to those with “poor/very poor health”.


Norwegian older adults PA levels differed by age. Overall, the elderly spent 66% of their time being sedentary and only 3% in MVPA. Twenty one percent of the participants fulfilled the current Norwegian PA recommendations. Overall PA levels were associated with self-reported health.

Physical activity level; Self-reported health; Accelerometer; Older people