Do the recommended guidelines for physical activity impact percentage of body fat in normal-weight women?

Issue: Vol. 5 No. 2

Published by Journal of Fitness Research, August 2016. Volume 5.2

Tags: Accelerometer , Adiposity , Female , Exercise

Download PDF Version »

  1. Richard Swift
    School of Food and Nutrition Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
  2. Sarah Shultz (Corresponding Author)
    School of Sport and Exercise Massey University, Wellington, New Zealandrn63 Wallace Street, Mt Cook, Wellington 6041rnNew ZealandrnTelephone: +64 4 979 3496 Email:
  3. Pamela von Hurst
    School of Food and Nutrition Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
  4. Wendy O\\\\\\\'Brien
    School of Food and Nutrition Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
  5. Kathryn Beck
    School of Food and Nutrition Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
  6. Cathryn A. Conlon
    School of Food and Nutrition Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
  7. Welma Stonehouse
    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, Australia
  8. Rozanne Kruger
    School of Food and Nutrition Massey University, Albany, New Zealand


Introduction: International exercise guidelines have been designed to prevent weight gain, and subsequently improve health, in adults. However, body mass is a proxy for assessing obesity, and fat distribution also plays an important role in metabolic and cardiovascular health. Given the importance of adiposity in obesity-related disease risk, it is imperative that prescribed exercise guidelines be relevant to preventing gains in both weight and fat mass. Therefore, this study investigated the impact of achieving recommended levels of physical activity (PA) on adiposity in normal-weight women with varying levels of percentage body fat (PBF).

Methods: Anthropometric measures were performed in 107 women (age: 16-45 years; BMI: 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m2). Air-displacement plethysmography assessed PBF. Tri-axial accelerometers, worn over 7 days, assessed moderate and vigorous PA. Independent t-tests compared PBF levels between participants who achieved recommended levels of PA and those who did not.

Results: Achieving current PA recommendations (≥150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous PA) was associated with significantly lower PBF (27.4% ± 5.7 vs 30.3% ± 4.08; p=0.038). When PA was stratified, those achieving ≥300 min/week of moderate PA showed a trend towards lower PBF (p=0.076), while achieving ≥150 min/week of vigorous PA resulted in significantly lower PBF (24.5% ± 4.3 vs 28.3% ± 5.5; p=0.022).

Discussion: Achieving current PA recommendations was associated with a moderate, but clinically relevant decrease in PBF. The findings suggest this association is strongest for vigorous activity.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that while moderate-to-vigorous PA will help achieve lower levels of adiposity, an emphasis on vigorous PA may have the greatest impact on adiposity when prescribing exercise in normal-weight women. 

Download PDF Version »

Also In This Issue

« Back to Articles

Article Title

Do the recommended guidelines for physical activity impact percentage of body fat in normal-weight women?

Journal Title

Journal of Fitness Research Volume 5.2

Online Publication Date

August 2016

Author Names

Richard Swift
Sarah Shultz (Corresponding Author)
Pamela von Hurst
Wendy O\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Brien
Kathryn Beck
Cathryn A. Conlon
Welma Stonehouse
Rozanne Kruger
  1. World Health Organization (2015). Fact Sheet No 311: Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization.
  2. den Hoed, M., Westerterp, K.R. (2008). Body composition is associated with physical activity in daily life as measured using a triaxial accelerometer in both men and women. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 1264-1270.
  3. Sternfeld, B., Bhat, A.K., Wang, H., Sharp, T., Quesenberry, C.P. (2005). Menopause, physical activity, and body composition/fat distribution in midlife women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 37, 1195-1202.
  4. Tucker, L.A., Peterson, T.R. (2003). Objectively Measured Intensity of Physical Activity and Adiposity in Middle-Aged Women. Obesity Research, 11, 1581-1587.
  5. World Health Organization (2010). Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Geneva, Switzerland.
  6. Donnelly, J.E., Blair, S.N., Jakicic, J.M., Manore, M.M., Rankin, J.W., Smith, B.K. (2009). American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41, 459-471.
  7. Garber, C.E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M.R., Franklin, B.A., Lamonte, M.J., Lee, I.M., Nieman, D.C., Swain, D.P., American College of Sports, M. (2011). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43, 1334-1359.
  8. Mechanick, J.I., Garber, A.J., Handelsman, Y., Garvey, W.T. (2012). American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists\' position statement on obesity and obesity medicine. Endocrine Practice 18, 642-648.
  9. Oliveros, E., Somers, V.K., Sochor, O., Goel, K., Lopez-Jimenez, F. (2014). The Concept of Normal Weight Obesity. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 56, 426-433.
  10. Romero-Corral, A., Somers, V.K., Sierra-Johnson, J., Thomas, R.J., Collazo-Clavell, M.L., Korinek, J., Allison, T.G., Batsis, J.A., Sert-Kuniyoshi, F.H., Lopez-Jimenez, F. (2008). Accuracy of body mass index in diagnosing obesity in the adult general population. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 959-966.
  11. De Lorenzo, A., Martinoli, R., Vaia, F., Di Renzo, L. (2005). Normal weight obese (NWO) women: An evaluation of a candidate new syndrome. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 16, 513-523.
  12. Conus, F., Allison, D.B., Rabasa-Lhoret, R., St-Onge, M., St-Pierre, D.H., Tremblay-Lebeau, A., Poehlman, E.T. (2004). Metabolic and behavioral characteristics of metabolically obese but normal-weight women. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology And Metabolism, 89, 5013-5020.
  13. Dvorak, R.V., DeNino, W.F., Ades, P.A., Poehlman, E.T. (1999). Phenotypic characteristics associated with insulin resistance in metabolically obese but normal-weight young women. Diabetes, 48, 2210-2214.
  14. Kruger, R., Shultz, S.P., McNaughton, S.A., Russell, A.P., Firestone, R.T., George, L., Beck, K.L., Conlon, C.A., von Hurst, P.R., Breier, B., Jayasinghe, S.N., O\'Brien, W.J., Jones, B., Stonehouse, W. (2015). Predictors and risks of body fat profiles in young New Zealand European, Maori and Pacific women: study protocol for the women\'s EXPLORE study. Springerplus, 4, 128.
  15. Harrop, B.J., Woodruff, S.J. (2015). Effects of acute and 2-hour postphysical activity on the estimation of body fat made by the bod pod. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29, 1527-1533.
  16. Atkin, A.J., Gorely, T., Clemes, S.A., Yates, T., Edwardson, C., Brage, S., Salmon, J., Marshall, S.J., Biddle, S.J. (2012). Methods of Measurement in epidemiology: Sedentary Behaviour. International Journal of Epidemiology, 41, 1460-1471.
  17. Healy, G., Clark, B.K., Winkler, E.A.H., Gardiner, P.A., Brown, W.J., Matthews, C.E. (2011). Measurement of Adults\' Sedentary Time in Population-Based Studies. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 41, 216-227.
  18. Tudor-Locke, C., Barreira, T.V., Schuna, J.M., Jr., Mire, E.F., Katzmarzyk, P.T. (2014). Fully automated waist-worn accelerometer algorithm for detecting children\'s sleep-period time separate from 24-h physical activity or sedentary behaviors. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 39, 53-57.
  19. Troiano, R.P., Berrigan, D., Dodd, K.W., Masse, L.C., Tilert, T., McDowell, M. (2008). Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 40, 181-188.
  20. Garber, C.E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M.R., Franklin, B.A., Lamonte, M.J., Lee, I.-M., Nieman, D.C., Swain, D.P. (2011). Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43, 1334-1359.
  21. Lee, D.C., Sui, X., Church, T.S., Lavie, C.J., Jackson, A.S., Blair, S.N. (2012). Changes in fitness and fatness on the development of cardiovascular disease risk factors hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia. Journal of the American College of Cardiologists, 59, 665-672.
  22. Leitzmann, M.F., Park, Y., Blair, A., Ballard-Barbash, R., Mouw, T., Hollenbeck, A.R., Schatzkin, A. (2007). Physical activity recommendations and decreased risk of mortality. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167, 2453-2460.
  23. Hu, F.B., Li, T.Y., Colditz, G.A., Willett, W.C., Manson, J.E. (2003). Television watching and other sedentary behaviors in relation to risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 1785-1791.
  24. Moholdt, T., Wisløff, U., Lydersen, S., Nauman, J. (2014). Current physical activity guidelines for health are insufficient to mitigate long-term weight gain: more data in the fitness versus fatness debate (The HUNT study, Norway). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, 1489-1496.
No citations available


Blog comments powered by Disqus