OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the association between moderate-intensity physical activity (PA) and fasting insulin levels among African-American (n = 47), Native American (n = 46), and Caucasian women (n = 49), aged 40-83 years, enrolled in the Cross-Cultural Activity Participation Study. Associations by race/ethnicity, levels of central obesity, and cardiorespiratory fitness were also examined. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Physical activity scores were obtained from detailed PA records that included all PA performed during two consecutive 4-day periods scheduled 1 month apart. Using MET intensity (the associated metabolic rate for a specific activity divided by a standard resting metabolic rate), PA was expressed as MET-min (the product of the minutes for each activity times the MET intensity level) per day of energy expended in moderate (3-6 METs) and moderate/vigorous (> or = 3 METs) PA. Fasting insulin levels were determined by radioimmunoassay. Data were analyzed by multiple linear regression analysis. RESULTS: After adjusting for race/ethnicity, age, educational attainment, and site, an increase of 30 min of moderate-intensity PA was associated with a 6.6% lower fasting insulin level (P < 0.05). The association was similar among races/ethnicities, centrally lean and centrally obese women, and women with low and high cardiorespiratory fitness levels. CONCLUSIONS: These findings lend support to the 1995 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for an accumulation of 30 min/day in moderate-intensity PA. They also contribute to the growing literature suggesting that moderate amounts of PA have a significant role in reducing the burden of hyperinsulinemia and diabetes among ethnic populations at highest risk for these conditions.

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