Physical activity and the metabolic syndrome in a tri-ethnic sample of women

Obes Res. 2002 Oct;10(10):1030-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2002.140.


Objective: To determine the association of moderate-intensity physical activity (PA), vigorous-intensity PA, and maximal treadmill duration with the metabolic syndrome among African-American (n = 49), Native-American (n = 46), and white (n = 51) women (ages, 40 to 83 years), enrolled in the Cross-Cultural Activity Participation Study.

Research methods and procedures: The metabolic syndrome was defined as three or more of the following risk factors: waist circumference >88 cm, blood pressure > or =130/85 mm Hg, fasting glucose > or =110 mg/dL, hypertriglyceridemia (> or =150 mg/dL), and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol <50 mg/dL. PA was determined from detailed PA records that included all PA performed during two consecutive 4-day periods. Maximal treadmill duration was determined from a graded exercise test. Women were categorized into quartiles of moderate-intensity PA, vigorous-intensity PA, and maximal treadmill duration. Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios of the metabolic syndrome as a function of the four PA categories, adjusted for age, ethnicity, study site, menopausal status, and use of hormone-replacement therapy.

Results: The adjusted odds ratio for the metabolic syndrome was 0.18 (95% confidence interval, 0.33 to 0.90) for women in the highest category of moderate-intensity PA compared with women in the lowest category (p = 0.01 for trend). Similar associations were observed for the metabolic syndrome with vigorous-intensity PA (p = 0.01 for trend) and maximal treadmill duration (p = 0.0004 for trend).

Discussion: Higher levels of moderate and vigorous-intensity PA and greater maximal treadmill duration were inversely associated with the metabolic syndrome among an ethnically diverse sample of women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blacks
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Ethnicity*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Insulin / blood
  • Logistic Models
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • New Mexico / ethnology
  • Obesity
  • South Carolina / ethnology
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Whites


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides