Physical activity and glucose tolerance in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly study


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

VAN DAM, R. M., A. J. SCHUIT, E. J. M. FESKENS, J. C. SEIDELL, and D. KROMHOUT. Physical activity and glucose tolerance in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly study. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 7, pp. 1132–1136, 2002.

Purpose: To determine whether physical activity is associated with glucose tolerance in the elderly.

Methods: We examined current and 5-yr change in physical activity in relation to glucose tolerance in 424 randomly selected male inhabitants of the Dutch town Zutphen, aged 69–89 yr, without known diabetes mellitus. Physical activity was assessed by a validated questionnaire designed for retired men. Glucose intolerance was assessed by an oral glucose tolerance test and defined as impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes mellitus.

Results: Men with 30 min·d−1 or more of physical activity of at least moderate intensity had a lower prevalence of glucose intolerance as compared to men without these activities (age-adjusted odds ratio 0.32; 95% CI, 0.18–0.57). Adjustment for family history of diabetes, smoking, alcohol intake, dietary factors, body mass index, and subscapular skin-fold thickness or exclusion of men with cardiovascular diseases or disabilities did not substantially change the results. With specific activities modeled simultaneously, bicycling (P for trend = 0.01) and gardening (P for trend = 0.02) were inversely associated with glucose intolerance. Men whose amount of physical activity had decreased during the past 5 yr had significantly higher age-adjusted 2-h glucose concentrations as compared with men who remained at least as active (difference 0.7 mmol·L−1; 95% CI, 0.1-1.3).

Conclusion: These findings suggest that common types of physical activity such as bicycling and gardening may contribute to the prevention of glucose intolerance in elderly men

Author Information

Department of Chronic Diseases Epidemiology and Division of Public Health Research, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, THE NETHERLANDS; and Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Free University Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Submitted for publication May 2001.

Accepted for publication January 2002.

©2002The American College of Sports Medicine