Dose-response association of physical activity with HbA1c: Intensity and bout length

Jennifer L. Gay, David M. Buchner, Michael D. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aims of this study were to characterize the dose-response relationship between moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA), and light-intensity activity with HbA1c in adults at low, moderate, and high risks of type 2 diabetes, and to compare the relationship of short (1 to 9 min) versus long (10 + min) bouts of MVPA with HbA1c. Methods: Data from 2707 participants from the 2003-2006 National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed in 2014-2015. Type 2 diabetes risk was classified into three groups based upon age (< 40 years; ≥ 40 years) and BMI (< 30; ≥ 30). The relationship between HbA1c and accelerometer-based physical activity variables was assessed using multiple regression models. Results: There was a curvilinear dose-response relationship between HbA1c with total activity and MVPA in adults at moderate or high risk for type 2 diabetes: higher amounts of physical activity were associated with lower HbA1c. The association of physical activity on HbA1c was stronger at lower levels of physical activity. There was no dose-response relationship in adults at low risk for type 2 diabetes. The relationship between short bouts with HbA1c was stronger than for bouts ≥ 10 min. Conclusions: In adults at risk for type 2 diabetes, there is a dose-response relationship between physical activity and HbA1c levels such that the relationship: (1) is curvilinear; (2) is stronger when a higher percent of total activity comes from MVPA; and (3) is more potent with short bouts of MVPA. Fractionalized physical activity of at least moderate-intensity may contribute to long-term glucose control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-63
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Adults
  • Exercise
  • Fractionalized physical activity
  • Glucose control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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