When assessing population adherence to physical activity (PA) recommendation using accelerometers, absolute intensity threshold definition is applied despite having limited validity in those with low cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), who are unable to reach them (e.g older adults). Thus, PA thresholds relative to CRF may be an alternative approach. We compared the proportion of the older adults meeting the PA recommendation when PA is assessed using absolute versus sex-and-CRF-adjusted (relative) accelerometer thresholds and determined the association between relative versus absolute moderate PA (MPA), vigorous PA (VPA) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Cross-sectional study of 509 men and 567 women aged 70-77. Accelerometer assessed MPA, VPA and MVPA were analyzed using absolute and relative thresholds. Meeting the PA-recommendation was defined as amounting ≥150 min/week in MPA/MVPA or 75 min/week in VPA, respectively. CRF was directly measured as peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak). MetS was defined as 3 or more of the following: elevated waist circumference, fasting glucose, hypertension, triglycerides, decreased HDL-cholesterol or diabetes, dyslipidemia or hypertension medication.
Higher proportion of the population met the recommendation when PA was assessed with relative compared to absolute thresholds: VPA (72.4% vs. 1.7%) and MVPA (75.2% vs. 33.8%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that men and women not meeting the relative-MVPA or VPA recommendation had higher likelihood of MetS (Men: MVPA OR: 1.59, 95% CI: 1.08-2.33.
1.81, 95%CI: 1.23-2.67 and Women: MVPA OR: 2.12, 95% CI: 1.36-3.31; VPA OR: 1.95, 95% CI: 1.29-2.95), compared to men and women meeting the relative MVPA or VPA recommendation. There was no significant association between MetS and absolute MVPA, MPA or VPA recommendations in the fully adjusted model.
The association between meeting/not meeting the PA recommendation and MetS differed with method. Not meeting relative MVPA and VPA recommendation was associated with significantly higher likelihood for presence of MetS. Since relative intensity is part of the current PA recommendation, it should be considered when assessing population PA and associated health risks in the older adults.
Clinical Trial Registration: NCT01931111 (Date of trial registration: July 19, 2013).