Objective: To investigate the relationships of two main physical activity domains (during leisure and at work) with cardiovascular risk factors and eating habits.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Preventive medicine centre.
Subjects: In 5478 adults (32% women, aged 20-80 years) who consecutively underwent a standardised health examination, leisure-time physical activity (LTPA; i.e. non-sport leisure and sport activities), occupational physical activity (OPA) and eating habits were assessed by self-administered questionnaires. We analysed sex-specific relationships of LTPA and OPA (in quartiles) with (1) various cardiovascular risk factors and (2) eating habits using analysis of variance and logistic regression, respectively.
Results: In both genders, with and without adjustment for education in addition to age, LTPA was associated negatively with body mass index, body fat, waist circumference, resting heart rate, diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides, and positively associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (all P < or = 0.005). OPA adjusted for age only was positively associated with most cardiovascular risk factors but these associations were not significant after further adjustment on education (except for waist circumference in women). Age- and education-adjusted LTPA was associated with increased frequency of consumption of fruits (odds ratio (OR) = 2.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.68-2.52 in men; OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.41-2.05 in women) and vegetables (OR = 1.81, 95% CI 1.48-2.21 in men; OR = 2.22, 95% CI 1.66-2.97 in women).
Conclusions: The data emphasise the favourable associations of LTPA, a modifiable behaviour, with various cardiovascular risk factors and healthy eating habits. The results also suggest that the relationships of OPA with cardiovascular risk factors depend, at least in part, on socio-economic status as reflected by educational level.