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Long-Term Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Other Health Habits as Predictors of Objectively Monitored Late-Life Physical Activity: A 40-Year Twin Study

By Katja Waller, Henri Vähä-Ypyä, Timo Törmäkangas, Pekka Hautasaari, Noora Lindgren, Paula Iso-Markku, Kauko Heikkilä, Juha Rinne, Jaakko Kaprio, Harri Sievänen, Urho M. Kujala

Posted 19 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/205856 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-27704-7)

IMPORTANCE: Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in old age is an important indicator of good health and functional capacity enabling independent living. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether physical activity and other health habits at ages 31-48 years predict objectively measured MVPA decades later. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This prospective twin cohort study in Finland comprised 616 individuals (197 complete twin pairs, including 91 monozygotic pairs, born 1940-1944), who responded to baseline questionnaires in 1975, 1981, and 1990, and participated in accelerometer monitoring at follow-up (mean age, 73 years). EXPOSURES: Primary exposure was long-term leisure-time physical activity, 1975-1990 (LT-mMET index). Covariates were body mass index (BMI), work-related physical activity, smoking, heavy alcohol use and health status in 1990, and socioeconomic status. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Physical activity was measured with a waist-worn triaxial accelerometer (at least 10 hours per day for at least 4 days) to obtain daily mean MVPA values. RESULTS: High baseline LT-mMET index predicted higher amounts of MVPA (increase in R2 of 6.9% after age and sex adjustment, P<.001) at follow-up. After addition of BMI to the regression model, the R2 value of the whole multivariate model was 17.2%, and with further addition of baseline smoking, socioeconomic status, and health status, the R2 increased to 20.3%. In pairwise analyses, differences in MVPA amount were seen only among twin pairs who were discordant at baseline for smoking (n=40 pairs, median follow-up MVPA 25 vs. 35 min, P=.037) or for health status (n=69 pairs, 30 vs. 44 min, P=.014). For smoking, the difference in MVPA also was seen for monozygotic pairs, but for health status, it was seen only for dizygotic pairs. Mediation analysis showed that shared genetic factors explained 82% of the correlation between LT-mMET and MVPA. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Low leisure-time physical activity at younger age, overweight, smoking, low socioeconomic status, and health problems predicted low MVPA in old age in individual-based analyses. However, based on the pairwise analyses and quantitative trait modeling, genetic factors and smoking seem to be important determinants of later-life MVPA.

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