Physical Activity, Exercise, and Inflammatory Markers in Older Adults: Findings from The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study

Authors

  • Lisa H. Colbert PhD, MPH,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Marjolein Visser PhD,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Eleanor M. Simonsick,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Russell P. Tracy PhD,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Anne B. Newman MD, MPH,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Stephen B. Kritchevsky PhD,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Marco Pahor MD,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Dennis R. Taaffe PhD,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Jennifer Brach PhD,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Susan Rubin MS,

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • Tamara B. Harris MD, MS

    1. From the *Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MarylandInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsIntramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland§University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VermontDivision of Geriatric MedicineDepartment of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania#Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee**Sticht Center on Aging, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina††School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia‡‡Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
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  • This study was supported by National Institute on Aging Contracts N01-AG-6–2101, N01-AG-6–2103, and N01-AG-6–2106 and American Heart Association Contract 9970066 N.

Address correspondence to Lisa H. Colbert, Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail: lhcolbert@education.wisc.edu

Abstract

Objectives: To examine the association between physical activity and inflammatory markers, with consideration for body fatness and antioxidant use.

Design: Cross-sectional study, using baseline data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.

Setting: Metropolitan areas surrounding Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Participants: Black and white, well-functioning men and women (N=3,075), aged 70 to 79.

Measurements: Interviewer-administered questionnaires of previous-week household, walking, exercise, and occupational/volunteer physical activities. Analysis of covariance was used to examine the association between activity level and serum C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and plasma tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) with covariate adjustment. Antioxidant supplement use (multivitamin, vitamins E or C, beta carotene) was evaluated as an effect modifier of the association.

Results: Higher levels of exercise were associated with lower levels of CRP (P<.01), IL-6 (P<.001), and TNFα (P=.02) (e.g., CRP=1.95 mg/L for no exercise and 1.72 for >180 min/wk). Adjustment for body fatness attenuated the associations somewhat. Use of antioxidant supplements modified the CRP (Pinteraction=.01) and IL-6 (Pinteraction=.08) associations such that concentrations were low in those taking supplements (e.g., CRP=1.79–1.84 across exercise levels) and higher in nonsupplement users who did no exercise (2.03) than in those who did the most (1.72). Among nonexercisers, higher levels of other physical activity were related to lower levels of CRP (P<.01) and IL-6 (P=.02) but not TNFα (P=.36), even after accounting for body fat.

Conclusion: Inflammatory markers are lower in older adults with higher levels of exercise and nonexercise activity and in antioxidant supplement users regardless of exercise level.

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