Association of physical activity with sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity in community-dwelling older adults: the Fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Age Ageing. 2013 Nov;42(6):734-40. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft063. Epub 2013 Jun 11.


Objective: this study examined the association of physical activity with sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity among the community-dwelling Korean elderly.

Methods: subjects consisted of 2,264 aged 65 years or older in the 2008-09 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Sarcopenia was defined as 2 SD below the mean of the appendicular skeletal muscle/weight for healthy young adults. Obesity was defined as waist circumference ≥ 90 cm for men and ≥ 85 cm for women. Levels of physical activity were classified using the metabolic equivalent task method.

Results: the prevalence of sarcopenia was 12.1% in men and 11.9% in women. Among those with sarcopenia, obesity was prevalent in 68.3% of men and 65.0% of women. Adjusting for all covariates, compared with those with low physical activity, men who engaged in moderate and high activity were 38% and 74%, respectively, less likely to have sarcopenia (Ptrend < 0.001). In women, the relationship between physical activity and sarcopenia was not significant. For sarcopenic obesity, men participating in moderate [odds ratio (OR) = 0.47; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.26-0.87] and high (OR = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.12-0.60) physical activity, compared with low activity, had significantly lower risk (Ptrend = 0.001). In women, high physical activity was associated with a lower risk of sarcopenic obesity (OR = 0.43; 95% CI: 0.22-0.86).

Conclusion: physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity in older Korean adults. There were gender differences in the relationship, with stronger associations observed in men than in women.

Keywords: aged; older people; physical activity; sarcopenia; sarcopenic obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Odds Ratio
  • Organ Size
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology*
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control
  • Sex Factors
  • Waist Circumference