Excess adiposity gains and significant lean mass loss may be risk factors for chronic disease in old age. Long-term patterns of change in physical activity (PA) and their influence on body composition decline during aging has not been characterized. The authors evaluated the interrelationships of PA and body composition at the outset and over longitudinal follow-up to changes in older men.
Self-reported PA by the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE), clinic body weight, and whole-body lean mass (LM) and fat mass, by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), were assessed in 5964 community-dwelling men aged ≥65 years at baseline (2000-2002) and at two subsequent clinic visits up until March 2009 (an average 4.6 and 6.9 years later). Group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) identified patterns of change in PA and body composition variables. Relationships of PA and body composition changes were then assessed.
GBTM identified three discrete trajectory patterns, all with declining PA, associated primarily with initial PA levelshigh-activity (7.2% of men), moderate-activity (50.0%), and low-activity (42.8%). In separate models, GBTM identified eight discrete total weight change groups, five fat mass change groups, and six LM change groups. Joint trajectory modeling by PA and body composition group illustrated significant declines in total weight and LM, whereas fat mass levels were relatively unchanged among high-activity and low-activity-declining groups, and significantly increased in the moderate-activity-declining group.
Although patterns of change in PA and body composition were identified, groups were primarily differentiated by initial PA or body composition rather than by distinct trajectories of change in these variables.