The acceptability of reducing sedentary behaviour to older adults: a qualitative study

  • L. McGowan
  • R. Powell
  • D. French


Background: Sedentariness is a risk factor for multiple diseases and premature death, and is most common in older adults. To develop and implement effective interventions to reduce sedentariness in this population, it is important to discern what methods and techniques would be acceptable. The present research aimed to investigate factors influencing acceptability in relation to sedentary behaviour reduction in older adults. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 older adults aged 65-99 years with varying levels of activity, living independently in both higher and lower SES areas in Manchester. Framework Analysis was used, and findings were related to the Theoretical Domains Framework in the latter stages of analysis. Findings: Older adults struggled to conceptualise what is meant by ‘sedentariness’, finding it easier to think in terms of being physically active or inactive. Perhaps as a result of this, participants also had difficulty imagining specific ways sedentary behaviour could be reduced, instead focusing on approaches that would increase physical activity rather than reduce sedentary behaviour. However, socialisation was clearly important to participants, both in terms of having existing social support (e.g. someone with whom to attend events) and as a motivation to engage in activities (e.g. as an opportunity to meet people). Discussion: If older adults are to be encouraged to reduce sedentariness, clear communication strategies need to be developed to better convey exactly what constitutes sedentary behaviour. Interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour should include the opportunity for socialisation, as well as providing concrete examples of how sedentariness could be reduced.