INTRODUCTION: Accelerometry is an important method for extending our knowledge about intensity, duration, frequency and patterns of physical activity needed to promote health. This study has used accelerometry to detect associations between intensity levels and related activity patterns with multimorbidity and disability. Moreover, the proportion of people meeting the physical activity recommendations for older people was assessed. METHODS: Physical activity was measured in 168 subjects (78 males; 65-89 years of age), using triaxial GT3X accelerometers for ten consecutive days. The associations between physical activity parameters and multimorbidity or disability was examined using multiple logistic regression models, which were adjusted for gender, age, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, lung function, nutrition and multimorbidity or disability. RESULTS: 35.7% of the participants met the physical activity recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Only 11.9% reached these 150 minutes, when only bouts of at least 10 minutes were counted. Differences in moderate to vigorous activity between people with and without multimorbidity or disability were more obvious when shorter bouts instead of only longer bouts were included. Univariate analyses showed an inverse relationship between physical activity and multimorbidity or disability for light and moderate to vigorous physical activity. A higher proportion of long activity bouts spent sedentarily was associated with higher risk for multimorbidity, whereas a high proportion of long bouts in light activity seemed to prevent disability. After adjustment for covariates, there were no significant associations, anymore. CONCLUSIONS: The accumulated time in moderate to vigorous physical activity seems to have a stronger relationship with health and functioning when shorter activity bouts and not only longer bouts were counted. We could not detect an association of the intensity levels or activity patterns with multimorbidity or disability in elderly people after adjustment for covariates.