University of Oulu

Stenbäck V, Mutt SJ, Leppäluoto J, Gagnon DD, Mäkelä KA, Jokelainen J, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S and Herzig K-H (2019) Association of Physical Activity With Telomere Length Among Elderly Adults - The Oulu Cohort 1945. Front. Physiol. 10:444. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00444

Association of physical activity with telomere length among elderly adults : the Oulu cohort 1945

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Author: Stenbäck, Ville1,2; Mutt, Shivaprakash Jagalur1,2; Leppäluoto, Juhani1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Biomedicine, Department of Physiology and Biocenter of Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Laboratory of Environmental Exercise Physiology, School of Human Kinetics, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada
4Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada
5Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Unit of General Practice, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolism, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-10-28


Introduction: Physical activity (PA) has been associated with telomere shortening. The association of PA intensity or volume with telomere length (TL) is nonetheless unclear. The aim of our study was to investigate the associations of exercise intensity and volume with TL in elderly adults from Northern Finland (65° latitude North).

Methods: Seven hundred elderly subjects born in 1945 in the Oulu region were investigated. PA was measured during a 2-week period with a wrist-worn accelerometer. In addition, a questionnaire was used to assess sedentary time and to achieve a longitudinal PA history and intensity. Relative telomere lengths (RTL) were determined from frozen whole blood samples using a qPCR-based method.

Results: Relative telomere lengths were significantly longer in women than men and negatively correlated with age in both genders (men r = -0.210, p = 0.000, women r = -0.174, and p = 0.000). During the 2-week study period, women took more steps than men (p = 0.001), but the association between steps and RTL was only seen in men (p = 0.05). Total steps taken (r = 0.202 and p = 0.04) and sedentary time (r = -0.247 and p = 0.007) significantly correlated with RTLs in 70-year old subjects. Moderate PA was associated with RTL in subjects with the highest quartile of moderate PA compared to the three lower quartiles (p-values: 0.023 between 4th and 1st, 0.04 between 4th and 2nd, and 0.027 between 4th and 3rd) in the 70-year old subjects.

Conclusion: Women had longer RTL and a higher step count compared to men. However, exercise volume and RTL correlated positively only in men. Surprisingly, age correlated negatively with RTL already within an age difference of 2 years. This suggests that telomere attrition rate may accelerate in older age. Moderate physical activity at the time of study was associated with RTL.

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Series: Frontiers in physiology
ISSN: 1664-042X
ISSN-E: 1664-042X
ISSN-L: 1664-042X
Volume: 10
Article number: 444
DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00444
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: This study was funded in part by University of Oulu Hospital Fund.
Copyright information: © 2019 Stenbäck, Mutt, Leppäluoto, Gagnon, Mäkelä, Jokelainen, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi and Herzig. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.