Domains of sedentary behavior and cognitive function: The Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, 1999/2000 to 2006/2007

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences




Brain health; Cognition; Sitting


BACKGROUND: This study examines the relationship between various domains of sedentary behavior and subsequent cognitive function to evaluate whether different sedentary activities have specific associations with future cognitive performance. METHODS: Data were from 1,261 older adults participating in the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study between 1999/2000 and 2006/2007. Total sitting time (h/day), reading time (h/week), and TV time (≤27/≥28 h/week) were self-reported at baseline and 3 years later. At follow-up, cognitive function was evaluated using the Teng Mini-Mental State Exam (3MS) and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). Multivariable linear regression modeling examined the independent associations of baseline sedentary behaviors and 3-year change in those behaviors with cognitive function scores at follow-up, adjusting for important covariables. RESULTS: Baseline total sitting time was positively associated with 3MS (β=0.14±0.07; p<0.05) and DSST (β=0.20±0.10; p<0.05) scores at follow-up, as was reading time (β=0.09±0.03; p<0.05 for 3MS score and β= 0.14± 0.04; p<0.01 for DSST score). Participants who increased their TV watching time over 3 years had a significantly lower 3MS score (β=-1.45±0.71; p<0.05) at follow-up, compared with those who maintained a low level of TV time (referent). These findings were independent of age, sex, race, education level, health status, depressive symptoms, and physical activity. CONCLUSION: Some types of sedentary behavior may have benefits for cognitive function in older age, thus highlighting the importance of measuring different domains of sitting time.


Prevention and Community Health