The Effect of Atorvastatin on Habitual Physical Activity among Healthy Adults

PANZA, GREGORY A.1; TAYLOR, BETH A.1,2; THOMPSON, PAUL D.1; ERHARD, LIV3; CAPIZZI, JEFFREY A.1; GRIMALDI, ADAM S.1; COLE, STEPHANIE M.4; CHIPKIN, STUART4; KEADLE, JUSTIN4; WHITE, C. MICHAEL3; PESCATELLO, LINDA S.3

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 1 - p 1–6
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000740
Clinical Sciences

Purpose: Statin therapy can result in muscle pain, cramps, and weakness that may limit physical activity, although reports are mixed. We conducted a randomized control trial to examine the effect of atorvastatin on habitual physical activity levels in a large sample of healthy adults.

Methods: Participants (n = 418) were statin-naive adults (44.0 ± 16.1 yr (mean ± SD)) who were randomized and double-blinded to 80 mg·d−1 of atorvastatin or placebo for 6 months. Accelerometers were worn for 96 h before and after drug treatment. Repeated-measures analysis tested physical activity levels after versus those before drug treatment among groups with age and V˙O2max as covariates.

Results: In the total sample, sedentary behavior increased (19.5 ± 5.1 min·d−1), whereas light-intensity (9.1 ± 3.0 min·d−1) and moderate-intensity (9.7 ± 2.8 min·d−1) physical activity decreased, as did total activity counts (17.8 ± 6.3 d−1 × 10−3) over 6 months (P < 0.01), with no differences between groups. The atorvastatin group increased sedentary behavior (19.8 ± 7.4 min·d−1) and decreased light-intensity (10.7 ± 4.3 min·d−1) and moderate-intensity (8.5 ± 4.0 min·d−1) physical activity (P < 0.05). On the other hand, the placebo group increased sedentary behavior (19.2 ± 7.1 min·d−1) and decreased moderate-intensity (11.0 ± 3.8 min·d−1) and total physical activity counts (−23.8 ± 8.8 × 10−3 d−1) (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Time being sedentary increased and physical activity levels decreased in the total sample over 6 months of drug treatment, independent of group assignment. Our results suggest that statins do not influence physical activity levels any differently from placebo, and the lack of inclusion of a placebo condition may provide insight into inconsistencies in the literature.

1Department of Cardiology, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT; 2Department of Health Sciences, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT; 3Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; and 4School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Address for correspondence: Gregory Panza, M.S., Department of Cardiology, Henry Low Heart Center, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT 06102; E-mail: Gregory.panza@hhchealth.org.

Submitted for publication March 2015.

Accepted for publication July 2015.

© 2016 American College of Sports Medicine