Off the couch and onto the playing court: Does sport involvement in older adulthood influence sedentary behaviour?


Although sport involvement may motivate older people to engage in health-promoting behaviour including exercise and strength training, participation in physical activity (PA) does not necessarily equate to a reduction in sedentary behaviour (SB). Research has indicated that older adults who meet recommended levels of PA may spend a great portion of their day engaged in sedentary pursuits (Gennuso et al., 2013). Given that SB in older adulthood is associated with a range of maladaptive health outcomes independent of involvement in moderate to vigorous PA, more detailed information on this relationship is warranted. For instance, it is unclear whether the type of PA involvement later in life influences levels of SB. The present study examined the relationship between sport participation and SB in comparison to inactivity and other PA involvement. Data from 1,723 respondents (age 65 and older) who completed the Sport Module of the 2010 Canadian General Social Survey – Time Use was used to investigate the influence of PA participation on the daily duration of time spent in low effort activities (i.e., MET < 1.5). Results indicated that physically active respondents are less sedentary than those who are inactive. More specifically, athletes reported less SB time than those involved in general leisure activity. The types of SB contributing to overall sedentary time and implications of these findings in relation to previous work in the area and public health strategies aimed at reducing SB in ageing populations will be discussed.