The association between physical activity and reduced body fat lessens with age - Results from a cross-sectional study in community-dwelling older adults

Yi Chao Foong, Dawn Aitken, Tania Winzenberg, Petr Otahal, David Scott, Graeme Jones

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Introduction: The aim of this study was to describe the relationship between accelerometer-determined physical activity (PA) and adiposity in community-dwelling older adults. In addition, we were interested in comparing the extent of correlation between questionnaire and accelerometer determined PA. Methods: 636 community-dwelling older adults (66. ±. 7. years) were studied. Adiposity was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and BMI was calculated. We measured minutes/day spent in sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous intensity activity using both questionnaires and Actigraph GT1M accelerometers. Results: Participants spent a median of 583(IQR 522-646), 225(176-271), 27(12-45) and 0(0-0) minutes in sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous activities respectively. There was a non linear dose-response inverse relationship between activity intensity and adiposity. After adjusting for age, sex and other levels of PA, for every 10. minute increase in activity, total body fat decreased by 169. g(95% CI 61-277), 905. g(632-1178), and 2208. g(759-3657) for light, moderate and vigorous activities respectively. There was an interaction between age and activity; as age increased, the magnitude of the effects of light and moderate activities on adiposity decreased. Sedentary minutes were not associated with adiposity after adjusting for time spent at other PA intensities. Questionnaire measures of PA were weakly correlated with body fat measures when compared to accelerometer determined PA. Conclusion: Both the amount and intensity of PA, but not sedentary time, have an independent dose-response association with adiposity. The association is much stronger using objective assessment compared to questionnaire. The magnitude of these associations decrease with age suggesting that physical activity programmes may need to be modified with increasing age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Accelerometry
  • Body composition
  • Community dwelling
  • Elderly
  • Physical activity

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