Physical activity and peptic ulcers. Does physical activity reduce the risk of developing peptic ulcers?

West J Med. 2000 Aug;173(2):101-7. doi: 10.1136/ewjm.173.2.101.


Background: Although Helicobacter pylori has been identified as a major cause of chronic gastritis, not all infected patients develop ulcers, suggesting that other factors such as lifestyle may be critical to the development of ulcer disease.

Objective: To investigate the role physical activity may play in the incidence of peptic ulcer disease.

Methods: The participants were men (n = 8,529) and women (n = 2,884) who attended the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Dallas, Texas, between 1970 and 1990. The presence of gastric or duodenal ulcer disease diagnosed by a physician was determined from a mail survey in 1990. Participants were classified into 3 physical activity groups according to information provided at the baseline clinic visit (before 1990): active, those who walked or ran 10 miles or more a week; moderately active, those who walked or ran less than 10 miles a week or did another regular activity; and the referent group consisting of those who reported no regular physical activity.

Results: With the use of gender-specific proportional hazards regression models that could be adjusted for age, smoking, alcohol use, body mass index, and self-reported tension, active men had a significantly reduced risk for duodenal ulcers (relative hazard [95% confidence interval] for the active group, 0.38 [0.15-0.94], and 0.54 [0.30-0.96] for the moderately active group). No association was found between physical activity and gastric ulcers for men or for either type of ulcer for women.

Conclusion: Physical activity may provide a nonpharmacologic method of reducing the incidence of duodenal ulcers among men.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Data Collection
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Stomach Ulcer / etiology
  • Stomach Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Stress, Physiological / complications