Leisure-time physical activity and all-cause mortality

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Physical inactivity is a major public health problem associated with increased mortality risk. It is, however, poorly understood whether vigorous physical activity is more beneficial for reducing mortality risk than activities of lower intensity. The aim of this study was to examine associations of the intensity and volume of leisure-time physical activity with all-cause mortality among middle-aged women and men while considering sociodemographic and health related factors as covariates.


Questionnaire survey data collected in 2000-02 among 40-60-year-old employees of the City of Helsinki (N = 8960) were linked with register data on mortality (74% gave permission to the linkage) providing a mean follow-up time of 12-years. The analysis included 6429 respondents (79% women). The participants were classified into three groups according to intensity of physical activity: low moderate, high moderate and vigorous. The volume of physical activity was classified into three groups according to tertiles. Cox regression analysis was used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for all-cause mortality.


During the follow up 205 participants died. Leisure-time physical activity was associated with reduced risk of mortality. After adjusting for covariates the vigorous group (HR = 0.54, 95% CI 0.34-0.86) showed a reduced risk of mortality compared with the low moderate group whereas for the high moderate group the reductions in mortality risk (HR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.48-1.08) were less clear. Adjusting for the volume of physical activity did not affect the point estimates. Higher volume of leisure-time physical activity was also associated with reduced mortality risk; however, adjusting for the covariates and the intensity of physical activity explained the differences.


For healthy middle-aged women and men who engage in some physical activity vigorous exercise may provide further health benefits preventing premature deaths.
TidskriftPLoS One
Sidor (från-till)e101548
Antal sidor7
StatusPublicerad - 2014
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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