Correlates of life course physical activity in participants of the Baltimore longitudinal study of aging

Ann Zenobia Moore, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Bennett Landman, Jennifer Schrack, Amal A. Wanigatunga, Luigi Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical activity is consistently associated with better health and longer life spans. However, the extent to which length and intensity of exercise across the life course impact health outcomes relative to current activity is undefined. Participants of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging were asked to categorize their level of physical activity in each decade of life from adolescence to the current decade. In linear mixed effects models, self-reported past levels of physical activity were significantly associated with activity assessed at study visits in the corresponding decade of life either by questionnaire or accelerometry. A pattern of life course physical activity (LCPA) derived by ranking participants on reported activity intensity across multiple decades was consistent with the trajectories of activity estimated from standard physical activity questionnaires assessed at prior study visits. In multivariable linear regression models LCPA was associated with clinical characteristics, measures of body composition and indicators of physical performance independent of current physical activity. After adjustment for minutes of high intensity exercise, LCPA remained significantly associated with peak VO2, fasting glucose, thigh muscle area and density, abdominal subcutaneous fat, usual gait speed, lower extremity performance, and multimorbidity (all p < 0.01) at the index visit. The observed associations suggest that an estimate of physical activity across decades provides complementary information to information on current activity and reemphasizes the importance of consistently engaging in physical activity over the life course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14078
JournalAging Cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • body composition
  • exercise
  • life course
  • physical activity
  • physical performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


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