The association between physical activity and lung function is thought to depend on smoking history but most previous research uses self-reported measures of physical activity. This cross-sectional study investigates whether the association between accelerometer-derived physical activity and lung function in older adults differs by smoking history. The sample comprised 3063 participants (age = 60–83 years) who wore an accelerometer during 9 days and undertook respiratory function tests. Forced vital capacity (FVC) was associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; acceleration ≥0.1 g (gravity)) in smokers but not in never smokers: FVC differences for 10 min increase in MVPA were 58.6 (95% Confidence interval: 21.1, 96.1), 27.8 (4.9, 50.7), 16.6 (7.9, 25.4), 2.8 (−5.2, 10.7) ml in current, recent ex-, long-term ex-, and never-smokers, respectively. A similar trend was observed for forced expiratory volume in 1 second. Functional data analysis, a threshold-free approach using the entire accelerometry distribution, showed an association between physical activity and lung function in all smoking groups, with stronger association in current and recent ex-smokers than in long-term ex- and never-smokers; the associations were evident in never smokers only at activity levels above the conventional 0.1 g MVPA threshold. These findings suggest that the association between lung function and physical activity in older adults is more pronounced in smokers than non-smokers.
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