OBJECTIVE: Physical activity (PA) has substantial health benefits and is important in combatting chronic diseases, which have been associated with elevated levels of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs). AGEs play a role in the ageing process, and an association between PA and AGEs has been reported. We aimed to investigate the relationship between PA and AGE accumulation in a general population and in a population with chronic diseases.
METHODS: This large cross-sectional population study uses data from adult participants in the Lifelines project, with participant information drawn from the Lifelines database, as well data from patients with diabetes mellitus, renal and/or cardiovascular diseases. Tissue AGE accumulation was assessed non-invasively by skin-autofluorescence (SAF) using an AGE Reader. PA was assessed using the short questionnaire to assess health-enhancing physical activity (SQUASH) questionnaire. Multivariate linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), sex, and smoking status.
RESULTS: Data from 63,452 participants (general population n = 59,177, chronic disease n = 4275) were analysed. The general population was significantly younger (44 ± 12 years, mean ± SD) and had significantly lower SAF (1.90 ± 0.42 arbitrary units (AU)) compared to the chronic disease population (age: 56 ± 12 years; SAF: 2.27 ± 0.51 AU). In the chronic disease group, more hours of moderate to vigorous physical activities per week were associated with a lower SAF (β = -0.002, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.002 to -0.001). For the general population, there was no association between hours of moderate to vigorous activity and SAF (β = 3.2 × 10-5, 95%CI: 0.000 - 0.000, p = 0.742). However, there was an association in the general population between total hours of PA per week and SAF (β = 4.2 × 10-4, 95%CI: 0.000 - 0.001, p < 0.001), but this association was not found in the chronic disease population (β = -3.2 × 10-4, 95%CI: -0.001 to 0.000, p = 0.347).
CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that an inverse relation exists between PA and AGE accumulation in the chronic disease population. More hours of moderate to vigorous activity is associated with a significantly decreased SAF. More PA is associated with a lower SAF even after adjusting for the established predictors (age, BMI, smoking status, and sex). Our findings could help to promote health and prolong longevity.