Even low level of physical activity is associated with reduced mortality among people with metabolic syndrome, a population based study (the HUNT 2 study, Norway)

BMC Med. 2011 Sep 29;9:109. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-9-109.


Background: Low levels of physical activity may increase the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of metabolic factors that are associated with the risk of premature death. It has been suggested that physical activity may reduce the impact of factors associated with metabolic syndrome, but it is not known whether physical activity may reduce mortality in people with metabolic syndrome.

Methods: In a prospective study of 50,339 people, 13,449 had metabolic syndrome at baseline and were followed up for ten years to assess cause-specific mortality. The population was divided into two age groups: those younger than 65 years of age and those older than age 65. Information on their physical activity levels was collected at baseline.

Results: Metabolic syndrome was associated with higher mortality from all causes (hazard ratio (HR) 1.35, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.20 to 1.52) and from cardiovascular causes (HR 1.78, 95% CI 1.39 to 2.29) in people younger than 65 years old than among other populations. In older people, there was no overall association of metabolic syndrome with mortality. People with metabolic syndrome who reported high levels of physical activity at baseline were at a reduced risk of death from all causes compared to those who reported no physical activity, both in the younger age group (HR 0.52, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.73) and in the older age group (HR 0.59, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.74).

Conclusion: Among people with metabolic syndrome, physical activity was associated with reduced mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular causes. Compared to inactivity, even low levels of physical activity were associated with reduced mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / mortality*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis