Leisure-time physical activity and leukocyte telomere length among older women

Aladdin H. Shadyab*, Michael J. LaMonte, Charles Kooperberg, Alexander P. Reiner, Cara L. Carty, Todd M. Manini, Lifang Hou, Chongzhi Di, Caroline A. Macera, Linda C. Gallo, Richard A. Shaffer, Sonia Jain, Andrea Z. LaCroix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background Shortened leukocyte telomere length (LTL), a purported marker of cellular aging, is associated with morbidity and mortality. However, the association of physical activity, a modifiable lifestyle behavior, with LTL has not been adequately studied among older adults. Methods In this cross-sectional study, we examined associations of various intensity levels of leisure-time physical activity with LTL among 1476 older white and African American women from the Women's Health Initiative Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health study. Self-reported physical activity was assessed by questionnaire, and LTL was measured by Southern blot. The association between physical activity and LTL was evaluated using multiple linear regression models adjusted for demographic characteristics, lifestyle behaviors, and health-related variables. Results Women were on average aged 79.2 (standard deviation 6.7) years old. In the final model adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, smoking, alcohol, body mass index, a history of chronic diseases, and hormone therapy use, LTL was on average 110 (95% confidence interval, 20–190) base pairs longer among women in the highest (≥ 17.00 MET-hours/week) compared with the lowest (< 1.25 MET-hours/week) level of total leisure-time physical activity (P for trend = 0.02). Higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (P for trend = 0.04) and faster walking speed (P for trend = 0.03) were also associated with longer LTL in the fully-adjusted models. Conclusion Older women participating in greater amounts of total leisure-time physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity had longer LTL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Gerontology
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Leukocyte telomere length
  • MVPA
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • Walking
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Aging
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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