Light-intensity physical activity is associated with adiposity in adolescent females

Keiran P. Dowd, Deirdre M. Harrington, Ailish Hannigan, Alan E. Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Sedentary behavior (SB) research has relied on accelerometer thresholds to distinguish between sitting/lying time (SLT) and light-intensity physical activity (LIPA). Such methods may misclassify SLT, standing time (StT), and LIPA. This study examines the association between directly measured SB, physical activity (PA), and adiposity in an adolescent female sample. Methods: Female adolescents (n = 195; mean age, 15.7 yr (SD, 0.9)) had body mass index (BMI) (median, 21.7 kgIm-2 (interquartile range, 5.2 kgIm-2)) and four-site sum of skinfolds (median, 62.0 mm; interquartile range, 37.1mm)measured and wore an activPALiactivitymonitor for 7 d. SLT, StT, breaks in SLT, and bouts of SLT <30 and ≥30 min were determined from activPAL outputs. A threshold of 2997 counts per 15 s determined moderate-to-vigorous PA. All remaining time was quantified as LIPA. Mixed linear regression models examined associations between PA variables, SB variables, and adiposity. Results: Participants spent a mean of 65.3% (SD, 7.1) of the waking day in SLT, 23.0% (SD, 5.3) in StT, 5.6% (SD, 1.5) in LIPA, and 6.1% (SD, 2.4) in moderate-to-vigorous PA. Significant effects for the percentage of LIPA (which excluded StT) with both BMI (β = -4.38, P = 0.0006) and sum of skinfolds (β =j4.05, P = 0.006) were identified. Significant effects for breaks in SLT with BMI (β = -0.30, P = 0.04) were also observed. No additional significant associations were found between activity measures and adiposity. Conclusions: Increased LIPA (excluding StT) and breaks in SLT were negatively associated with adiposity in this sample, independent of age. Interventional work should examine whether reducing SLT through breaks and increasing LIPA may prevent increases in adiposity in adolescent females. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2295-2300
Number of pages6
JournalMed. Sci. Sports Exerc.
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • activpal
  • Llght physical activity
  • obesity
  • sedentary
  • actimetry
  • adolescent
  • body mass
  • cross-sectional study
  • devices
  • exercise
  • female
  • human
  • motor activity
  • physiology


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