Associations of leisure time physical activity, self-rated physical fitness, and estimated aerobic fitness with serum C-reactive protein among 3803 adults

  • Borodulin Katja
    Corresponding author. Tel.: +358 9 47448569; fax: +358 9 47448338.
    National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland
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  • Tiina Laatikainen
    National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland

    Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, A Flinders and Deakin University Partnership, Warrnambool, Australia
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  • Veikko Salomaa
    National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland
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  • Pekka Jousilahti
    National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland

    University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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      Serum C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Obesity and physical activity are associated with CRP, though population studies are sparse.

      Methods and results

      We assessed the cross-sectional relationship of physical activity, self-rated fitness and estimated aerobic fitness with serum CRP among a population-based random sample of 3803 Finnish adults aged 25–74 years. Conditioning, commuting and non-conditioning physical activity was measured by a recall and self-rated physical fitness by a questionnaire. A non-exercise test was used to estimate aerobic fitness. The combined association of aerobic fitness and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) on CRP was also assessed. Self-rated fitness and aerobic fitness had inverse associations with CRP (adjusted for age, WHR, smoking, anti-hypertensive drugs, aspirin, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hormone replacement therapy and menopausal status) in both sexes (p < 0.001). An inverse age-adjusted association of conditioning and non-conditioning physical activity with CRP was found in both sexes. After further adjustments, associations remained significant in women for conditioning and non-conditioning activity (p < 0.001 and p = 0.010, respectively) and borderline significant in men (p = 0.074 and p = 0.070, respectively). Commuting physical activity was inversely associated with CRP among women only (p = 0.012).


      Physical activity and fitness may have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is independent of obesity.


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