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Purpose:

Our objective was to analyze the association between different intensities of physical activity (PA), physical fitness, and metabolic syndrome (MS) in young adults.

Methods:

Cross-sectional study including 275 university students, 18–30 years old, from Cuenca, Spain. We evaluated (a) physical activity using accelerometry, (b) aerobic capacity (VO2max), and (c) muscle strength, by a muscle strength index calculated as the sum of the standardized z score of handgrip dynamometry/weight and standing broad jump. An MS index was estimated by summing standardized z scores of waist circumference, ratio of triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein, mean arterial blood pressure, and HOMA-IR.

Results:

The mean scores of MS index and HOMAIR were significantly higher and the VO2max significantly lower for individuals who did not perform 20 min or more per week of vigorous physical activity. However, those who performed 250 min/week of moderate physical activity showed no significant differences in either VO2max or the MS index when compared with individuals who did not perform this level of activity. The MS index was lower in those with medium-high levels of aerobic capacity. In addition, individuals with medium-high levels of muscular fitness showed lower waist circumference and a lower MS index.

Conclusions:

VO2max and muscle strength are negatively associated with metabolic risk. 20-min/week of vigorous physical activity was associated with lower cardiometabolic risk in young adults; moderate physical activity did not show association with lower cardiometabolic risk.

López-Martínez is with the Clinical Analysis Laboratory, Hospital Virgen de la Luz, Cuenca, Spain. Sánchez-López, Solera-Martinez, Arias-Palencia, and Martínez-Vizcaíno are with the Social and Health Care Research Center, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain. Fuentes-Chacón is with the School of Nursing, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain.