Nonexercise movement in elderly compared with young people

Ann M. Harris, Lorraine M. Lanningham-Foster, Shelly K. McCrady, James A. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The association between free-living daily activity and aging is unclear because nonexercise movement and its energetic equivalent, nonexercise activity thermogenesis, have not been exhaustively studied in the elderly. We wanted to address the hypothesis that free-living nonexercise movement is lower in older individuals compared with younger controls matched for lean body mass. Ten lean, healthy, sedentary elderly and 10 young subjects matched for lean body mass underwent measurements of nonexercise movement and body posture over 10 days using sensitive, validated technology. In addition, energy expenditure was assessed using doubly labeled water and indirect calorimetry. Total nonexercise movement (acceleration arbitrary units), standing time, and standing acceleration were significantly lower in the elderly subjects; this was specifically because the elderly walked less distance per day despite having a similar number of walking bouts per day compared with the young individuals. The energetic cost of basal metabolic rate, thermic effect of food, total daily energy expenditure, and nonexercise activity thermogenesis were not different between the elderly and young groups. Thus, the energetic cost of walking in the elderly may be greater than in the young. Lean, healthy elderly individuals may have a biological drive to be less active than the young.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1207-E1212
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Nonexercise activity thermogenesis
  • Physical activity monitoring system
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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