Associations Between Measures of Physical Activity and Muscle Size and Strength: A Systematic Review
Objective: To determine whether physical activity is associated with lower limb muscle size and strength within the general population.
Data Sources: Six databases were systematically searched from inception using 3 main constructs: lower extremity, muscle volume, and muscle strength.
Study Selection: Studies that measured physical activity (using either objective or subjective measurements), lower limb muscle size, and strength were included. Available discrete group data were standardized using previously published age- and sex-specific normative values prior to analysis.
Data Extraction: The final analysis included 47 studies from an initial yield of 5402 studies. Standardized scores for outcome measures were calculated for 97 discrete groups.
Data Synthesis: As anticipated, lower limb muscle size was positively correlated with lower limb muscle strength (r=0.26, P<.01; n=4812). Objectively measured physical activity (ie, accelerometry, pedometry) (n=1944) was positively correlated with both lower limb muscle size (r=0.30, P<.01; n=1626) and lower limb strength (r=0.24, P<.01; n=1869). However, subjectively measured physical activity (ie, questionnaires) (n=3949) was negatively associated with lower limb muscle size (r=−0.59, P<.01; n=3243) and lower limb muscle strength (r=−0.48, P<. 01; n=3882).
Conclusions: This review identified that objective measures of physical activity are moderately associated with lower limb muscle size and muscle strength and can, therefore, be used to predict muscle changes within the lower limbs associated with exercise-based rehabilitation programs.