Background: Sedentary behaviour, obesity and insulin resistance are associated with pro-inflammatory status. Limited data on whether physical activity modulates inflammatory status and counteracts obesity and insulin resistance associated low-grade inflammation exist. Our objective was to investigate associations between objectively measured physical activity and inflammatory status, and specifically whether substituting daily sedentary behaviour with light activity or moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), is associated with beneficial alterations to the inflammatory profile among middle-aged adults and those at increased cardiometabolic risk (obese and insulin resistant subjects).
Methods: Data are from a sub-sample of the Mitchelstown cohort; a population-based cross-sectional sample of 2047 Irish adults. Physical activity intensity and duration were measured in 396 participants for 7-consecutive days using the GENEActiv accelerometer. Isotemporal regression analysis examined the associations between replacing 30 min per day of sedentary behaviour with equal amounts of light activity and MVPA on inflammatory factors (serum acute-phase reactants, adipocytokines, pro-inflammatory cytokines and white blood cells (WBC)).
Results: Reallocating 30 min of sedentary time with MVPA was associated with a more favourable inflammatory profile characterized by higher adiponectin and lower complement component C3 (C3), leptin, interleukin 6 (IL-6) and WBC concentrations (P < 0.05). No significant effects were noted with substitution of sedentary time with light activity. Among the obese subjects replacing sedentary behaviour with an equivalent amount of MVPA was associated with lower WBC counts (P < 0.05); no associations were detected among the insulin resistant (HOMA-IR > 75th percentile) subjects. Among the non-obese and non-insulin resistant subjects substituting 30 min of sedentary behaviour with MVPA was associated with decreased C3, IL-6 and WBC concentrations.
Conclusions: Replacing sedentary behaviour with MVPA modulates pro-inflammatory status. These findings, which highlight the need for the developing randomized trials aimed at lowering cardiometabolic risk, warrant further investigation.