Evidence to support including lifestyle light-intensity recommendations in physical activity guidelines for older adults

Am J Health Promot. 2015 May-Jun;29(5):277-84. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.130709-QUAN-354. Epub 2014 Feb 27.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the association of objectively measured lifestyle light-intensity physical activity (LLPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) with various biological markers and chronic diseases among a nationally representative sample of U.S. older adults (65+ years).

Design: A cross-sectional design was used for this study.

Setting: Data were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006.

Subjects: Subjects were 1,496 older U.S. adults.

Measures: Participants wore an accelerometer for at least 4 days and completed questionnaires to assess sociodemographics and chronic disease information. Blood samples were taken to assess biological markers.

Analysis: Adjusted Wald tests and Poisson regression were used to examine the association of LLPA and MVPA with biological markers and chronic disease.

Results: Older adults engaging in ≥300 min/wk of LLPA had lower observed values for body mass index, waist circumference, C-reactive protein, and insulin resistance compared to those engaging in <300 min/wk of LLPA. Additionally, those engaging in <300 min/wk of LLPA had a rate 1.18 times greater for having chronic disease compared to those engaging in ≥300 min/wk of LLPA.

Conclusion: In this national sample of older U.S. adults, participation in at least 300 min/wk of LLPA was associated with more favorable health outcomes. Future experimental studies are warranted to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Biomarkers; Chronic Disease; Epidemiology; Exercise; Health focus: physical activity, weight control; Manuscript format: research; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); Outcome measure: biometric; Research purpose: modeling/relationship testing, descriptive; Setting: national; Strategy: education, behavior change; Study design: cross-sectional; Target population age: seniors; Target population circumstances: education, race/ethnicity.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids
  • C-Reactive Protein