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Muscular Strength, Aerobic Fitness, and Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Flemish Adults


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 233-240
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000247003.32589.a6
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: To investigate the association of muscular strength and aerobic fitness with a continuous metabolic syndrome risk score in male and female adults.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 1019 (571 men) Flemish adults, aged 18-75. Muscular strength was evaluated by measuring isometric knee extension and flexion peak torque, using a Biodex System Pro 3 dynamometer. Aerobic fitness was quantified as V˙O2peak and was determined during a maximal cycle ergometer exercise test. Both strength and aerobic fitness were scaled for differences in FFM, using allometric analyses. A validated metabolic syndrome risk score that was based on waist circumference, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, and HDL cholesterol was used. Metabolic syndrome risk score, strength, and aerobic fitness were analyzed as continuous variables using multiple linear regression.

Results: Metabolic syndrome risk was inversely associated with strength, independently of aerobic fitness, and after adjustment for age, height, education level, smoking status, and dietary intake in women (β = −0.172, P < 0.001). In men, however, adjustment for aerobic fitness attenuated the inverse association between strength and metabolic syndrome risk (β = −0.044, P > 0.05). Independently of strength, aerobic fitness was inversely associated with metabolic syndrome risk (men: β = −0.309, P < 0.001; women: β = −0.208, P < 0.001). Furthermore, independent associations were found for strength and aerobic fitness with several individual metabolic syndrome risk factors in women, and most of these associations were only partially mediated by central and general adiposity indicators.

Conclusion: Although cross-sectional, the present results support inclusion of strength training in addition to aerobic exercise in physical activity recommendations for women, because both types of activity might show additional effects in reducing the risk of the metabolic syndrome.

1Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, BELGIUM; 2Faculty of Physical Education and Physical Therapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, BELGIUM; and 3Department of Biomedical Kinesiology, Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences, Leuven, BELGIUM

Address for correspondence: Renaat Philippaerts, Ph.D., Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2006.

Accepted for publication August 2006.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine