Work and leisure time physical activity and mortality in men and women from a general population sample

Ann Epidemiol. 1999 Aug;9(6):366-73. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(99)00025-3.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the long-term relationships between total physical activity and mortality from all causes and coronary heart disease (CHD) in the general population.

Methods: A prospective design was used, following participants for 29 years, beginning in 1960. The study population consisted of a randomly selected sample of white male (n = 698) and female (n = 763) residents of Buffalo, New York with a 79.0% participation rate and follow-up rates of 96.0% and 90.2% in males and females, respectively. At baseline, comprehensive information was obtained regarding participants' usual physical activity at work and during leisure time.

Results: As of December 31, 1989, three hundred and two (43.3%) men and 276 (41.0%) women died, 109 (15.6%) and 81 (10.6%) from CHD, respectively. In men, a significant interaction was found between activity and body mass index (BMI) for both outcomes. In women, a significant activity by age interaction was observed. In non-obese men (BMI<27.02), activity was inversely associated with all-cause [relative risk (RR) = 0.59; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.39-0.89] and CHD mortality (RR = 0.39; 95% CI, 0.18-0.83), independent from the effects of age and education. No such associations were found in obese men and increased risks could not be ruled out. Among women, younger participants (age <60 years) had a significantly reduced risk of CHD death with increased activity (RR = 0.26; 95% CI, 0.07-0.99). No other significant associations were observed.

Conclusions: Physical activity favorably influences mortality risks in non-obese men and younger women. Gender-specific factors should be considered for potential effect modification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis