Physical activity participation, health perceptions, and cardiovascular disease mortality in a multiethnic population: the Dallas Heart Study

Am Heart J. 2012 Jun;163(6):1037-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2012.03.005.


Background: Physical activity (PA) participation differs by ethnicity, but contributing factors and cardiovascular (CV) outcomes related to these disparities are not well understood. We determined whether health beliefs regarding the benefit of PA contribute to ethnic differences in participation and assessed how these differences impact CV mortality.

Methods: The Dallas Heart Study is a longitudinal study of CV health. We assessed PA participation and health perceptions by questionnaire among 3,018 African American, Hispanic, and white men and women at baseline visit (2000-2002). Participant mortality was obtained through 2008 using the National Death Index.

Results: African Americans (odds ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.53-0.80) and Hispanics (odds ratio 0.34, 95% CI 0.26-0.45) were less likely to be physically active compared with whites even after accounting for income, educational status, age, sex, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Beliefs regarding the benefits of PA did not contribute to this disparity, as >94% of individuals felt PA was effective in preventing a heart attack across ethnicity. Physical activity participation was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 0.66, 95% CI 0.46-0.93) and CV disease death (HR 0.56, 95% CI 0.32-0.97) in multivariable adjusted models. Similar results were seen when restricting to African Americans (CV disease death, HR 0.57, 95% CI 0.31-1.05).

Conclusions: Ethnic minorities reported less PA participation, and lack of PA was associated with higher CV mortality overall and among African Americans. Health perception regarding the benefits of PA did not contribute to this difference, indicating there are other ethnic-specific factors contributing to physical inactivity that require future study.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Proportional Hazards Models