Metabolic syndrome and the benefit of a physical activity intervention on lower-extremity function: Results from a randomized clinical trial

Anda Botoseneanu*, Haiying Chen, Walter T. Ambrosius, Heather G. Allore, Stephen Anton, Sara C. Folta, Abby C. King, Barbara J. Nicklas, Bonnie Spring, Elsa S. Strotmeyer, Thomas M. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: In older adults, increases in physical activity may prevent decline in lower-extremity function, but whether the benefit differs according to metabolic syndrome (MetS) status is uncertain. We aim to investigate whether structured physical activity is associated with less decline in lower-extremity function among older adults with versus without MetS. Methods: We used data from the multicenter Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study to analyze 1535 sedentary functionally-vulnerable women and men, aged 70 to 89 years old, assessed every 6 months (February 2010–December 2013) for an average of 2.7 years. Participants were randomized to a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity intervention (PA; n = 766) or health education program (HE; n = 769). MetS was defined according to the 2009 multi-agency harmonized criteria. Lower-extremity function was assessed by 400-m walking speed and the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score. Results: 763 (49.7%) participants met criteria for MetS at baseline. Relative to HE, PA was associated with faster 400-m walking speed among participants with MetS (P < 0.001) but not among those without MetS (P = 0.91), although the test for statistical interaction was marginally non-significant (P = 0.07). In contrast, no benefit of PA versus HE was observed on the SPPB score in either MetS subgroup. Conclusions: Among older adults at high risk for mobility disability, moderate-intensity physical activity conveys significant benefits in 400-m walking speed but not SPPB in those with, but not without, MetS. The LIFE physical activity program may be an effective strategy for maintaining or improving walking speed among vulnerable older adults with MetS. Trial registration:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111343
JournalExperimental Gerontology
StatePublished - Jul 15 2021


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Physical activity intervention
  • Randomized clinical trial
  • Short physical performance battery
  • Walking speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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