The purpose of this study was to investigate the combined impact of obesity and physical activity (PA) on the health of older adults. Pedometer-determined steps/d, body-mass index (BMI), resting blood pressure, and fasting glucose (FG) were assessed in 137 older adults (69.0 ± 8.9 yr). The active group (>4,227 steps/d) had lower systolic blood pressure (SBP; p = .001), diastolic blood pressure (DBP; p = .028), and FG (p < .001) than the inactive group (≤4,227 steps/d). The normal-BMI group (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) had lower SBP (p < .001) and DBP (p = .01) than the obese group (≤30 kg/m2). There were no differences in SBP (p = .963) or DBP (p = 1.0) between active obese and inactive normal-BMI groups. The active obese group, however, had a more favorable FG than the inactive normal-BMI group (χ2 = 18.9, df = 3, p = .001). Efforts to increase PA of older adults should receive the same priority as reducing obesity to improve BP and FG levels.
The authors are with the Dept. of Human Movement Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413.