Physical Activity and Telomere Length in American Indians: The Strong Heart Study

Eur J Epidemiol. 2018 May;33(5):497-500. doi: 10.1007/s10654-018-0363-2. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Telomere length, a marker of biological aging, has been associated with many chronic diseases, but its relations with physical activity remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of objectively measured ambulatory activity with leukocyte telomere length (LTL), a marker of biological aging, among American Indians. This cross-sectional study included 2312 AI participants from the Strong Heart Family Study. Steps per day were measured using Accusplit AE120 pedometers. Quantitative PCR was used to measure LTL. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the associations of steps per day with LTL. The median steps per day over a 1 week period was 5118 steps (interquartile range = 3163-7576 steps). Compared to participants in the lowest quartile of steps per day, participants in the upper three quartiles of steps per day had longer LTL: beta ± SE = 0.0195 ± 0.0144, 0.0273 ± 0.0139, and 0.0375 ± 0.0143 T/S ratio units longer (p trend = 0.010) after adjustment for potential confounders. These data suggest that ambulatory activity is associated with LTL. Further studies are needed to determine the mechanism by which ambulatory activity influences LTL.

Keywords: American Indians; Pedometer; Physical activity; Telomeres.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Telomere / physiology*