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PLoS One. 2019 Jul 17;14(7):e0219798. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219798. eCollection 2019.

Domain and intensity of physical activity are associated with metabolic syndrome: A population-based study.

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Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences (IUIBS), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain.
Department of Physical Education, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
Clinical Analysis Department, Dr. Negrín University Hospital, Las Palmas, Spain.
Research Unit, Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria University Hospital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.
Area of Preventive Medicine, University of La Laguna, La Laguna, Spain.



Little is known on how the domain and intensity of physical activity (PA) associates with metabolic syndrome (MetS). The aim of this study was to examine associations between PA domains (leisure-time, domestic, active transport, total walking and total PA), PA intensities (light, moderate and vigorous) and PA levels with MetS in the general adult population.


Cross-sectional study. Anthropometry, blood biochemistry, 79-item PA-questionnaire, lifestyle and medical history were evaluated in a representative sample of Canary Island adults (n = 6,729). MetS was diagnosed using the harmonized IDF-NHLBI-AHA criteria. T-test and multivariable logistic regression was used to analyse associations between PA domains and intensities with MetS vs. no MetS, controlling for socio-demographic, lifestyle, family antecedents and body mass index (BMI).


For each MET-h/day spent in moderate-vigorous PA intensities, as well as in recreational domain, active transport, total walking and total PA, the odds of MetS decreased between 3-10%. Energy expenditure exclusively in light and domestic PAs was not associated with MetS, however it was important to achieve a total PA level of 3 MET-h/day, which reduced the odds of MetS by 23%. This reduction was blunted in those with more than 2 h/d of TV watching time. A PA level of 3 MET-h/d also nullified the risk of MetS in those with low PA and high TV consumption.


Some types of leisure time PAs may contribute more than others to reducing MetS. Light and domestic PA play a complementary role in enhancing energy expenditure in the general population. TV watching time above 2 h/d counteracted the MetS risk reduction associated with PA level, but PA level also reduced the risk of METs presented by those with a low level of PA and an excess TV watching time. Physical activity explains a greater amount of the variance of MetS than any other factors of lifestyle, education, sex and family history, and substantially mitigates the strong association of age and BMI with MetS.

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