Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity from young adulthood to middle age and metabolic disease: a 30-year population-based cohort study


Objectives To determine the association between moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) trajectories (course over age and time) through the adult life course and onset of metabolic disease (diabetes and dyslipidaemia).

Methods We analysed prospective community-based cohort data of 5115 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, who were black and white men and women aged 18–30 years at baseline (1985–1986) at four urban sites, collected through 30 years of follow-up. Individualised MVPA trajectories were developed for each participant using linear mixed models.

Results Lower estimated MVPA score at age 18 was associated with a 12% (95% CI 6% to 18%) higher odds of incident diabetes, a 4% (95% CI 1% to 7%) higher odds of incident low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and a 6% (95% CI 2% to 11%) higher odds of incident high triglycerides. Each additional annual 1-unit reduction in the MVPA score was associated with a 6% (95% CI 4% to 9%) higher annual odds of diabetes incidence and a 4% (95% CI 2% to 6%) higher annual odds of high triglyceride incidence. Analysing various MVPA trajectory groups, participants who were in the most active group at age 18 (over 300 min/week), but with sharp declines in midlife, had higher odds of high low-density lipoprotein and low HDL incidence, compared with those in the most active group at age 18 with subsequent gains.

Conclusion Given recent trends in declining MVPA across the life course and associated metabolic disease risk, young adulthood is an important time period for interventions to increase and begin the maintenance of MVPA.

  • physical activity
  • exercise
  • diabetes
  • cholesterol

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. Data are available upon request and data use agreement with the CARDIA Study (

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.