Influence of Habitual Physical Behavior – Sleeping, Sedentarism, Physical Activity – On Bone Health in Community-Dwelling Older People

Hans Degens, Conor Doody, Jorgen Wullems, Declan John Ryan, Christopher Morse, Gladys Onambele-Pearson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Sedentary behavior (SB) has emerged as an independent public-health risk and may contribute to the lower bone mineral density (BMD) in old (>60 years of age) than young adults. The purpose of this study was to quantify SB and habitual physical behavior (PB) in community-dwelling older adults and how this correlates with BMD. In 112 relatively healthy and independent-living individuals aged 72.5 ± 6.4 years, BMD, PB and SB were determined using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and 7-day three-dimensional accelerometry, respectively. In men, only healthy and osteopenic BMDs were found, whereas in women, osteoporotic BMD classifications also occurred. Our sample spent ∼61%, 7%, 12% and 19% of daily waking hours in SB, standing, LIPA [light intensity physical activity (PA)] and MVPA (medium-to-vigorous intensity PA), respectively. In men, after accounting for covariates (BMI, total fat, android:gynoid ratio), sleeping (hours/day), number of breaks in SB, number of SB ≥ 5 min, number of PA bouts, total duration of PA bouts (min), mean PA bouts duration (min), LIPA (%PA bout time) and MVPA (%PA bout time) were all predictors of BMD. In women, after accounting for covariates (age, BMI, total fat, android:gynoid ratio), SB (hours/day), SB (% waking hours), LIPA (hours/day), LIPA (% waking hours), MVPA (% waking hours) and number of short SB (i.e., <5 min), total time spent in PA (min) significantly correlated with BMD. In conclusion, the PB predictors of bone health in older persons include: night time sleeping duration, number of short bouts of SB, number and duration of bouts of PA relative to total waking hours. While radar graphs of PB patterns for healthy, osteopenic, osteoporotic individuals highlighted significant differences in PB between them, they were not consistent with the expectations from the Mechanostat Theory: i.e., more loading leads to better bone. Rather, our results suggest that a balance of activities must be maintained across the PB spectrum, where certain PB parameters are especially impactful in each sex, supporting the recently coined multifactorial-based variations in the Mechanostat threshold.

Original languageEnglish
Article number408
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue number408
Early online date15 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of Habitual Physical Behavior – Sleeping, Sedentarism, Physical Activity – On Bone Health in Community-Dwelling Older People'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this