All-cause mortality associated with physical activity during leisure time, work, sports, and cycling to work

Arch Intern Med. 2000 Jun 12;160(11):1621-8. doi: 10.1001/archinte.160.11.1621.


Background: Physical activity is associated with low mortality in men, but little is known about the association in women, different age groups, and everyday activity.

Objective: To evaluate the relationship between levels of physical activity during work, leisure time, cycling to work, and sports participation and all-cause mortality.

Design: Prospective study to assess different types of physical activity associated with risk of mortality during follow-up after the subsequent examination. Mean follow-up from examination was 14.5 years.

Setting: Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Participants: Participants were 13,375 women and 17,265 men, 20 to 93 years of age, who were randomly selected. Physical activity was assessed by self-report, and health status, including blood pressure, total cholesterol level, triglyceride levels, body mass index, smoking, and educational level, was evaluated.

Main outcome measure: All-cause mortality.

Results: A total of 2,881 women and 5,668 men died. Compared with the sedentary, age- and sex-adjusted mortality rates in leisure time physical activity groups 2 to 4 were 0.68 (95% confidence interval, 0.64-0.71), 0.61 (95% confidence interval, 0.57-0.66), and 0.53 (95% confidence interval, 0.41-0.68), respectively, with no difference between sexes and age groups. Within the moderately and highly active persons, sports participants experienced only half the mortality of nonparticipants. Bicycling to work decreased risk of mortality in approximately 40% after multivariate adjustment, including leisure time physical activity.

Conclusions: Leisure time physical activity was inversely associated with all-cause mortality in both men and women in all age groups. Benefit was found from moderate leisure time physical activity, with further benefit from sports activity and bicycling as transportation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bicycling* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cause of Death*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Random Allocation
  • Risk
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sports* / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Work* / statistics & numerical data