Adherence to the 2008 adult physical activity guidelines and mortality risk

Am J Prev Med. 2011 May;40(5):514-21. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.12.029.


Background: Mortality differentials by level and intensity of physical activity have been widely documented. A comprehensive review of scientific evidence of the health benefits of physical activity led the USDHHS to issue new Federal Guidelines for physical activity in 2008. Reductions in mortality risk associated with adherence to these Guidelines among the general U.S. adult population have not yet been studied.

Purpose: This study compared the relative mortality risks of U.S. adults who met the 2008 Guidelines with adults who did not meet the recommendations.

Methods: Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the relative mortality risks of U.S. adults aged ≥18 years, using data from the 1997-2004 National Health Interview Survey and linked mortality records for deaths occurring in 1997-2006 (analyzed in 2010). Risks for adults with and without chronic health conditions were examined separately.

Results: Meeting the recommendations for aerobic activity was associated with substantial survival benefits, especially among the population having chronic conditions, with estimated hazard ratios ranging from 0.65 to 0.75 (p<0.05). While strengthening activities by themselves did not appear to reduce mortality risks, they may provide added survival benefits to those already engaged in aerobic activities. The relative benefits of physical activity were greatest among adults who had at least one chronic condition.

Conclusions: Adherence to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines was associated with reduced all-cause mortality risks among U.S. adults, after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, BMI, smoking, and alcohol use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States
  • United States Dept. of Health and Human Services
  • Young Adult