Institute for Health & Ageing

Promoting positive ageing and an age friendly society

Measuring moderate-intensity walking in older adults using the ActiGraph accelerometer

Urban spaces active ageingThe World Health Organisation recommends engaging in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) because it is positively associated with numerous health outcomes in older adults, and may also improve cognitive function and delay the onset of cognitive disease. Physical activity recommendations for health benefits are intensity specific and therefore it is important to accurately differentiate light intensity physical activity from MVPA.

Dr Anthony Barnett and Professor Ester Cerin with PhD candidates, David Barnett from IHA and Daniel van den Hoek from Deakin University, have published in BMC Geriatrics the results of a study determining the physical activity intensity and walking speed above which MVPA occurs in older adults. The study was the first to use both resting metabolic rate and walking, the most popular activity in older adults. The MVPA level and speed were lower than those determined for younger adults. This shows that using values based on younger adults for older adult population studies is likely to underestimate time engaged in MPVA and likely to result in older adults working at a higher intensity than intended when prescribing walking.

Read their paper here.

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