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Exercise and Fitness Are Related to Peripheral Nervous System Function in Overweight Adults


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 7 - p 1241-1245
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cb8331
Clinical Sciences

Purpose: This study examined the association between physical activity and fitness and peripheral nervous system (PNS) function in overweight and obese individuals.

Methods: Forty nondiabetic overweight adults (mean ± SD; age = 44 ± 11 yr) were recruited for the study. Peroneal motor nerve and radial, sural, and medial plantar sensory nerve conductions were studied. Maximal oxygen uptake was measured in an incremental bicycle ergometer test. Physical activity was assessed by accelerometer and self-reporting. We analyzed the data using multiple stepwise linear regression models adjusted for age, height, and skin temperature.

Results: V˙O2max predicted 17% of peroneal distal compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude variation and 16% of peroneal proximal CMAP amplitude variation. Physical activity index at the age of 30 yr predicted 9% of peroneal motor nerve conduction velocity (NCV), 8% of peroneal F-wave maximum latency, 14% of medial plantar sensory latency, and 10% of medial plantar sensory NCV variation.

Conclusions: Physical activity and fitness are positively associated with PNS function and should be encouraged in overweight people.

1Department of Medical Technology, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND; 2Institute of Health Science, University of Oulu, Unit of General Practice, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, FINLAND; 3Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, FINLAND; 4Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Deaconess Institute of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND; and 5Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND

Address for correspondence: Henri Isojärvi, Department of Medical Technology, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Oulu, PO Box 5000, 90014 Oulu, Finland; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2009.

Accepted for publication November 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine