Light-intensity physical activity and cardiometabolic biomarkers in US adolescents

Carson, Valerie, Ridgers, Nicola D., Howard, Bethany J., Winkler, Elisabeth A.H., Healy, Genevieve N., Owen, Neville, Dunstan, David W. and Salmon, Jo 2013, Light-intensity physical activity and cardiometabolic biomarkers in US adolescents, Plos one, vol. 8, no. 8, article e71417, pp. 1-7.

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Title Light-intensity physical activity and cardiometabolic biomarkers in US adolescents
Author(s) Carson, Valerie
Ridgers, Nicola D.
Howard, Bethany J.
Winkler, Elisabeth A.H.
Healy, Genevieve N.
Owen, Neville
Dunstan, David W.
Salmon, Jo
Journal name Plos one
Volume number 8
Issue number 8
Season article e71417
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Publisher Public Library of Science
Place of publication San Francisco, California
Publication date 2013
ISSN 1932-6203


The minimal physical activity intensity that would confer health benefits among adolescents is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations of accelerometer-derived light-intensity (split into low and high) physical activity, and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity with cardiometabolic biomarkers in a large population-based sample.


The study is based on 1,731 adolescents, aged 12–19 years from the 2003/04 and 2005/06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Low light-intensity activity (100–799 counts/min), high light-intensity activity (800 counts/min to <4 METs) and moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity (≥4 METs, Freedson age-specific equation) were accelerometer-derived. Cardiometabolic biomarkers, including waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, HDL-cholesterol, and C-reactive protein were measured. Triglycerides, LDL- cholesterol, insulin, glucose, and homeostatic model assessments of β-cell function (HOMA-%B) and insulin sensitivity (HOMA-%S) were also measured in a fasting sub-sample (n = 807).


Adjusted for confounders, each additional hour/day of low light-intensity activity was associated with 0.59 (95% CI: 1.18–0.01) mmHG lower diastolic blood pressure. Each additional hour/day of high light-intensity activity was associated with 1.67 (2.94–0.39) mmHG lower diastolic blood pressure and 0.04 (0.001–0.07) mmol/L higher HDL-cholesterol. Each additional hour/day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity was associated with 3.54 (5.73–1.35) mmHG lower systolic blood pressure, 5.49 (1.11–9.77)% lower waist circumference, 25.87 (6.08–49.34)% lower insulin, and 16.18 (4.92–28.53)% higher HOMA-%S.


Time spent in low light-intensity physical activity and high light-intensity physical activity had some favorable associations with biomarkers. Consistent with current physical activity recommendations for adolescents, moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity had favorable associations with many cardiometabolic biomarkers. While increasing MVPA should still be a public health priority, further studies are needed to identify dose-response relationships for light-intensity activity thresholds to inform future recommendations and interventions for adolescents.

Language eng
Field of Research 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920401 Behaviour and Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2013
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences
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