A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions to reduce sedentary behavior among older adults

Jo Ana D. Chase, Jennifer Otmanowski, Sheri Rowland, Pamela S. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sedentary behavior (SB) is associated with numerous negative health outcomes, independent of physical activity behavior. Older adults are the most sedentary population in the United States. Understanding the effects and characteristics of existing interventions to reduce SB can inform practice, future research, and public health initiatives to improve older adults' health. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine existing SB intervention research among older adults and quantitatively synthesize intervention effects. Comprehensive searches were conducted to identify studies testing interventions to reduce SB time among adults at least 60 years old. Data on study design, intervention content and delivery, and participant characteristics were extracted from eligible studies. Standardized mean difference effect sizes (Cohen's d) were synthesized using a random-effects model for two-group pretest-posttest design studies. Twenty-two reports describing 17 distinct studies were included in the narrative synthesis, with eight studies included in the metaanalysis (k = 8; n = 1,024). Most interventions were theorydriven and employed multiple strategies, including education, self-monitoring, and goal setting. Although SB interventions significantly reduced total sedentary time, the overall effect was small (d =-0.25, 95% confidence interval [-0.50, 0.00], p = .05). Studies were significantly heterogeneous (Q = 22.34, p < .01); however, the small number of comparisons prevented moderator analyses. Practitioners should employ diverse SB-specific strategies to encourage older adults to reduce time spent sedentary. To develop public health programs targeting SB in older adults, future research should include measures of time spent in specific SB and duration/number of breaks in sedentary time and investigate SB intervention effects on health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1085
Number of pages8
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Meta-analysis
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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