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OBJECTIVE: To examine whether body mass index (BMI), menopausal status and hormone therapy (HT) use modify the association between physical activity (PA) patterns throughout middle age and incidence and prevalence of joint symptoms in later middle age in women. METHODS: Data were from 6661 participants (born 1946-1951) in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Surveys were completed every three years from 1998 to 2010 with questions on joint pain and stiffness, PA, height and weight, menopausal symptoms, and HT use. PA patterns were defined as 'none-or-low', 'low-or-meeting-guidelines', 'fluctuating' or 'meeting guidelines-at-all-times' (reference pattern). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between PA patterns and prevalent (in 2010) and cumulative incident (1998-2010) joint symptoms and effect modification by patterns of BMI, menopausal status and HT. RESULTS: The groups representing 'fluctuating' (odds ratio [OR]=1.34, 99% confidence interval [CI]=1.04-1.72) and 'none-or-low' physical activity (OR=1.60, CI =1.08-2.35) had higher odds of incident joint symptoms than those 'meeting guidelines-at-all-times'. Stratification by BMI showed that this association was statistically significant in the obese group only. No evidence was found for effect modification by menopausal status or HT use. The findings were similar for prevalent joint symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Maintaining at least low levels of physical activity throughout middle age was associated with lower prevalence and incidence of joint symptoms in later life. This apparent protective effect of physical activity on joint symptoms was stronger in obese women than in under or normal weight women, and not related to menopause and HT status. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Journal article


Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken)

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Menopausal status, body composition, hormone therapy, osteoarthritis