Different physical activity subtypes and risk of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older Chinese people

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53258. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053258. Epub 2013 Jan 7.


Background: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) is growing rapidly in China. Tai chi and dancing are common types of exercise among middle-aged and elderly Chinese. It remains unclear whether these activities are associated with a lower risk of MetS.

Methodology/principal findings: A total of 15,514 individuals (6,952 men, 8,562 women) aged 50 to 70 years from the Dongfeng-Tongji Cohort in Shiyan, China participated in a cross-sectional study. Physical activity and other lifestyle factors were assessed with semi-structured questionnaires during face-to-face interviews. MetS was defined by the current National Cholesterol Education Program/Adult treatment Panel III criteria for Asian Americans. The prevalence of MetS was 33.2% in the study population. In the multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses, total physical activity levels were monotonically associated with a lower odds of MetS [OR 0.75 comparing extreme quintiles, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.66-0.86, P<0.001]. Compared with non-exercisers in a specific exercise type, jogging (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.68-1.00, P = 0.046), tai chi (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.60-0.88, P<0.001), and dancing (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.47-0.67, P<0.001) were associated with significantly lower odds of MetS. Furthermore, each 1-h/week increment in tai chi and dancing was associated with a 5% (95% CI 2%-9%) and a 9% (95% CI 6%, 12%) lower risk of MetS.

Conclusions/significance: Jogging, tai chi and dancing are associated with a significantly lower risk of having MetS in middle-aged and older Chinese. Future intervention studies should consider the role of jogging, tai chi and dancing in preventing MetS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dancing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jogging
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Tai Ji

Grant support

This work was supported by Huazhong University of Science and Technology Foundation for Educational Development and Research and the National Basic Research Program grant 2011CB503800. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.