Twin Research and Human Genetics

Articles

Effects of 32-Year Leisure Time Physical Activity Discordance in Twin Pairs on Health (TWINACTIVE Study): Aims, Design and Results for Physical Fitness

Tuija Leskinena1, Katja Wallera2, Sara Mutikainena3, Sari Aaltonena4, Paula H. A. Ronkainena5, Markku Aléna6, Sarianna Sipiläa7, Vuokko Kovanena8, Merja Perhonena9, Kirsi H Pietiläinena10, Sulin Chenga11, Harri Suominena12, Heikki Kainulainena13, Jaakko Kaprioa14 and Urho M Kujalaa15 c1

a1 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a2 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a3 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a4 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a5 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a6 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland; Department of Medical Rehabilitation, Oulu University Hospital and Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Finland.

a7 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a8 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a9 CorusFit Oy, Jyväskylä, Finland.

a10 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland; Obesity Research Unit, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.

a11 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a12 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a13 Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

a14 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland; Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.

a15 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. urho.m.kujala@jyu.fi

Abstract

The physically active lifestyle is associated with low future morbidity and mortality, but the causality between physical activity and health is not always clear. As some inherited biological characteristics and childhood experiences may cause selection bias in observational studies, we sought to take them into account by identifying 16 twin pairs (7 MZ, 9 DZ, mean age 60 years) discordant for leisure time physical activity habits for thirty years. We conducted detailed health-related examinations among these twin pairs. Our main aims were to study the effects of physical activity and genes on fitness and body composition, with special reference to body fat compartments, metabolic syndrome components and related diseases and risk factor levels, status of arteries, structure and function of the heart, bone properties, and muscle and fat tissue-related mechanisms linked to physical activity and chronic disease development. Our physical activity assessments showed that inactive co-twins were on average 8.8 MET hours/day less active than their active co-twins through out their midlife (2.2 ± 2.3 vs. 11.0 ± 4.1 MET h/day, p < .001). Follow-up fitness tests showed that physically inactive co-twins were less fit than their active co-twins (estimated VO2peak 26.4 ± 4.9 vs. 32.5 ± 5.5 ml/kg/min, p < .001). Similar differences were found in both MZ and DZ pairs. On the basis of earlier epidemiological observations on nonrelated individuals, these physical activity and fitness differences are large enough to cause differences in many mechanisms and risk factors related to the development of chronic diseases and to permit future analyses.

(Received June 02 2008)

(Accepted November 21 2008)

Keywords

  • physical activity;
  • fitness;
  • twin study

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Urho M. Kujala, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35 (LL), FIN-40014, Finland.

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