Association of physical activity levels and prevalence of major degenerative diseases: Evidence from the national health and nutrition examination survey (NHANES) 1999-2018

Exp Gerontol. 2022 Feb:158:111656. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2021.111656. Epub 2021 Dec 14.


Objectives: Degenerative diseases are associated with lower healthy life expectancy and higher mortality. Physical activity (PA) has demonstrated a fundamental role in the prevention and control of several pathologies associated to the aging process. The aim of this study was to analyze the association of PA with the prevalence of sarcopenia, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in non-institutionalized American population.

Methods: Cross-sectional study carried out in participants aged ≥50 years from the 1999-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Sarcopenia was defined using appendicular lean mass adjusted for body mass index (ALM:BMI; men <0.789 kg/m2, women <0.512 kg/m2). Osteoporosis was defined as bone mineral density T-score ≤-2.5 of femur neck. Osteoarthritis and PA were self-reported, and total PA was used to classify participants in groups. The Odds Ratios among the different PA levels for each disease were examined.

Results: Performing at least 150 MET-min/week of PA was associated with reduced odds for sarcopenia; performing >1800 MET-min/week was associated with reduced odds for osteoporosis; and performing 150-1800 MET-min/week of PA was associated with reduced odds for osteoarthritis after adjust the results by several confounders.

Conclusions: The benefits of PA in sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis prevention are evident among Americans aged ≥50 years.

Keywords: Aging; Exercise; Osteoarthritis; Osteoporosis; Sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Sarcopenia* / complications
  • Sarcopenia* / epidemiology