Purpose: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a major public health problem related to increased risks of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. We investigated whether recommended levels of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) decrease the risk of MetS in a community-based prospective cohort study (Ansung and Ansan cohort). Materials and Methods: A total of 3910 adults (1890 men, 2020 women) without MetS examined in 2001–2002 (baseline) were included in this study and followed up from 2013 to 2014. We measured LTPA energy expenditure using the standard metabolic equivalent value [metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-h/wk]. Individuals were categorized into five groups (physically inactive, 0.1 to <7.5, 7.5 to <15.0, 15.0 to <22.5, 22.5 to <40.0, and ≥40.0 MET-h/wk). Results: The mean follow-up period was 11.8 years. Among the cohort, 482 men (25.5%) and 541 women (26.8%) were diagnosed with newly developed MetS. Multivariate logistic analysis revealed a 4.4% lower MetS risk among those performing two to three times the recommended minimum of 7.5 MET-h/wk [multivariate relative risk (RR), 0.956; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.654– 1.398] and a 21.9% lower risk among those performing three to four times the physical activity minimum (multivariate RR, 0.781; 95% CI, 0.574–1.063). This association was only significant in females performing three to four times the minimum (crude RR, 0.655; 95% CI, 0.432–0.994). Conclusion: We noted that physical activity at more than 2 times the recommended minimum prevents MetS. Healthcare professionals should encourage inactive adults to be physically active during their leisure time to take advantage of its health benefits.
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