Exploring New Relationships Between Physical Activity Volume and Intensity and Cardiometabolic Risk in U.S. Adolescents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Associations between physical activity (PA) intensity and volume and adolescents’ cardiometabolic health have research, policy, and practice implications. This study compares associations between cardiometabolic risk factors and 1) moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) minutes versus total PA volume (accelerometer-derived total activity counts, TAC) and 2) light PA volume (counts at light intensity, L-TAC) versus moderate-to-vigorous PA volume (counts at moderate-to-vigorous intensity, MV-TAC).


2105 adolescents from 2003– 2006 NHANES were included. Independent variables were MVPA minutes, TAC, L-TAC, and MV-TAC. Regression models tested associations between PA variables and continuous metabolic risk index (CMRI), waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, HDL, insulin, and triglycerides.


TAC demonstrated a slightly stronger inverse association with CMRI (P = .004) than did MVPA (P = .013). TAC and MVPA were both associated with systolic and diastolic pressure, HDL, and insulin; associations were similar or slightly stronger for TAC. L-TAC and MV-TAC were both associated with CMRI and HDL. Only L-TAC was associated with diastolic pressure. Only MV-TAC was associated with waist circumference, systolic pressure, and insulin.


Compared with MVPA minutes, TAC demonstrates similar or slightly stronger associations with cardiometabolic risk factors. L-TAC and MV-TAC appear similarly associated with adolescents’ clustered risk but differently associated with individual risk factors.

Hatfield (daniel.hatfield@tufts.edu), Sacheck, and Economos are with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; Chomitz and Chui are with the Dept of Public Health and Community Medicine; Tufts University, Boston, MA.