Does the fractionalization of daily physical activity (sporadic vs. bouts) impact cardiometabolic risk factors in children and youth?

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25733. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025733. Epub 2011 Oct 5.


Objective: Children and youth accumulate their daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in bouts (i.e., ≥ 5 consecutive minutes) and in a sporadic manner (i.e., <5 consecutive minutes). The study objective was to determine, within children and youth, whether MVPA accumulated in bouts is more strongly associated with cardiometabolic risk factors than an equivalent volume of MVPA accumulated sporadically.

Methods: Participants consisted of 2754 children and youth aged 6-19 years from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a representative cross-sectional study. Bouts and sporadic MVPA were measured objectively over 7 days using Actigraph accelerometers. Thresholds of 5 and 10 consecutive minutes were used to differentiate between bouts and sporadic MVPA. A high cardiometabolic risk factor score (CRS) was created based on measures of waist circumference, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and systolic blood pressure. Associations were examined using logistic regression and controlled for covariates (sex, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, dietary fat and sodium, smoking, and accelerometry wear time).

Results: The odds of a high CRS decreased in a dose-response for both the sporadic and bout MVPA measures. Relative to quartile 1, the odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for a high CRS in quartile 4 was 0.25 (0.10-0.60) for sporadic MVPA, 0.17 (0.09-0.34) for ≥ 5 minute bouts of MVPA, and 0.19 (0.11-0.34) for ≥ 10 minute bouts of MVPA. The sporadic and bout MVPA measures had a similar ability to distinguish between participants with high and normal CRS. Relative to 0 minutes of MVPA, an equivalent number of minutes of sporadic MVPA and bouts of MVPA had an almost identical odds ratio for a high CRS. The findings were consistent for 5 and 10 minute bout thresholds.

Conclusions: The relations between sporadic MVPA and bouts of MVPA with cardiometabolic risk factors were remarkably similar in children and youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol