Association of physical activity and visceral adipose tissue in older women and men. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: Physical inactivity, abdominal fat, and age are known risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. Previous evidence supports an inverse relationship between physical activity (PA) and abdominal fat estimated by waist circumference. However, few investigations used computed tomography (CAT) scanning for precise measures of abdominal fat. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Sixty-five female and 106 male (age, 64.5 +/- 5.2 years) participants in the Prostate, Lung, Colon and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial underwent a cross-sectional L4-L5 CAT scan to differentiate visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Subjects were also interviewed by phone to determine PA and physical difficulties (PD). RESULTS: Women had lower VAT (170 +/- 84 vs. 205 +/- 95 cm(2), p = 0.014), lower VAT/total fat (29.9 +/- 7.2% vs. 42.6 +/- 10.2%, p < 0.001), and higher total fat (596 +/- 385 vs. 482 +/- 183 cm(2), p = 0.010) than men. PA was inversely correlated to VAT (r = -0.164, p = 0.034) and total fat (r = -0.231, p = 0.003) in men and women. Those who reported a PD had higher VAT (249 vs. 180 cm(2), p < 0.001) and total fat (652 vs. 500 cm(2), p = 0.008). Multiple regression analysis indicated total PA and PD were independently associated to VAT and total fat. DISCUSSION: This investigation suggests a beneficial effect of PA and a negative influence of PD on abdominal fat accumulation. Although the cross-sectional design limits cause-effect designations, these results are consistent with other studies showing PA/abdominal fat relation.

published proceedings

  • Obes Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Riechman, S. E., Schoen, R. E., Weissfeld, J. L., Thaete, F. L., & Kriska, A. M.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Riechman, Steven E||Schoen, Robert E||Weissfeld, Joel L||Thaete, F Leland||Kriska, Andrea M

publication date

  • October 2002