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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Nov;51(11):2325-2333. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002064.

Sedentarism, Physical Activity, Steps, and Neurotrophic Factors in Obese Children.

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PROFITH "PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity" Research Group, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Department of Physical and Sports Education, Faculty of Sports Science, University of Granada, Granada, SPAIN.
Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.
LMU - Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Division of Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine, Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, University of Munich Medical Center, Munich, GERMANY.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology II, Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology "José Mataix," Center of Biomedical Research, University of Granada, Granada, SPAIN.
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Leuven, BELGIUM.
Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria ibs. GRANADA, Granada, SPAIN.
CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y la Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Madrid, SPAIN.
Hospital Universitario San Cecilio, Granada, SPAIN.
Department of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, University College Copenhagen, Copenhagen, DENMARK.
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Campus Sogndal, Faculty of Education, Arts and Sport, NORWAY.
Department of Experimental Psychology, Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre (CIMCYC), University of Granada, Granada, SPAIN.



This study aimed to examine the associations of sedentary time, physical activity (PA) and step-related behaviors with neurotrophic growth factors.


A total of 97 children with overweight/obesity age 8 to 11 yr participated in this study. Sedentary time, PA, and steps were measured by GT3X+ accelerometers in hip and nondominant wrist. Estimates of light, moderate, vigorous, and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) were obtained. Steps per daytime, peak 60-, 30-, and 1-min cadence were computed. The time accumulated (min·d) in different cadence bands of steps was also computed from hip accelerometer. Plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) were determined by the XMap technology (Luminex IS 100/200 system, Luminex Corporation, Austin, TX).


Light PA, moderate PA, MVPA, and the peak 60-min cadence were positively related with BDNF concentrations (all P < 0.05), and only light PA to VEGF (P = 0.048). No association was observed for IGF-1 (P > 0.05). The associations of light PA with BDNF and VEGF disappeared (all P > 0.05) after performing analyses with nondominant wrist-placement data. However, moderate PA and MVPA remained significantly associated with BDNF (both P < 0.05). The time accumulated in cadence bands of 40 to 59 steps per day and 60 to 79 steps per day (i.e., walking at slow pace) was positively associated with plasma BDNF (all P < 0.05).


In conclusion, PA is positively related to plasma BDNF, whereas no relationship was observed for VEGF or IGF-1. Higher amounts of time spent in slow walking cadence bands could increment BDNF levels. Exercise-based randomized controlled trials in children with overweight/obesity should be carried out to better understand the influence of PA behaviors on the neurotrophic factors.

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