Leisure-time physical activity across adulthood and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease at age 60-64: A prospective cohort study

Atherosclerosis. 2018 Feb:269:279-287. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2017.11.019. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


Background and aims: This study examined associations between leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) across adulthood (from age 36) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers at age 60-64.

Methods: LTPA was reported by study participants from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development at ages 36, 43, 53 and 60-64 (n = 1754) and categorised as inactive, moderately active (1-4/month) or most active (5+/month) at each age. Linear regression was used to examine associations between a cumulative adulthood LTPA score (range = 0-8), and change in LTPA between ages 36 and 60-64 (i.e. always inactive, became inactive, became active, always active) and inflammatory [C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6)], endothelial [tissue-Plasminogen Activator (t-PA), E-selectin] and adipokine [leptin, adiponectin] measures extracted from overnight fasting blood samples at age 60-64.

Results: The more active a participant was over adulthood, the better their biomarker profile, e.g. fully-adjusted difference in t-PA (both sexes) and adiponectin (women) per unit increase in the LTPA score (95% confidence interval) = -2.2% (-3.6; -0.8) and 2.0% (0.2; 3.8). Those that became active at age 60-64 showed slightly healthier biomarker profiles than those that became inactive [e.g. fully-adjusted difference in IL-6 = -9.9% (-23.9; 4.1) vs. -3.8% (-12.4; 4.8)], although the best profiles were seen for those always active [IL-6: -15.0% (-24.2; -5.7)], when compared with the always inactive group.

Conclusions: Greater accumulation of LTPA across adulthood was associated with a more favourable CVD biomarker profile in early old age. Earlier uptake and long-term maintenance of LTPA may provide the greatest benefits for CVD prevention.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Biomarkers; Cardiovascular disease; Exercise; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood*
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers
  • Inflammation Mediators