Objective: To estimate the association between level of physical activity in 1984-1986 and 1995-1997 and lung function in 1995-1997 among Norwegian men and women aged 28-80 years.
Design: In 1984-1986 and 1995-1997, all residents of Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway, aged > or =20 years were invited to participate in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Studies. These analyses included a sample that took part in both studies and underwent spirometry (n = 8047). We used linear regression models adjusting for potential confounders stratified by sex and age groups (28-49 years, 50-69 years and > or =70 years) to estimate the association between forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and physical activity.
Results: Men and women who were physically active in 1985 and 1995 had the highest lung function in both sexes and in all age groups. The reduction in FEV1 ranged from 20 ml to 170 ml, similar to 1-7% of predicted values dependent on physical activity level. Lung function was also associated with body mass index (BMI), height, smoking and subjective health.
Conclusions: The findings show that a high level of physical activity corresponds to about 3-5 years of normal decline in FEV1 (30 ml/year), and may therefore overcome the disadvantages of a decline in FEV1 from increasing age.