Does the benefit on survival from leisure time physical activity depend on physical activity at work? A prospective cohort study

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54548. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054548. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Purpose: To investigate if persons with high physical activity at work have the same benefits from leisure time physical activity as persons with sedentary work.

Methods: In the Copenhagen City Heart Study, a prospective cohort of 7,411 males and 8,916 females aged 25-66 years without known cardiovascular disease at entry in 1976-78, 1981-83, 1991-94, or 2001-03, the authors analyzed with sex-stratified multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression the association between leisure time physical activity and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality among individuals with different levels of occupational physical activity.

Results: During a median follow-up of 22.4 years, 4,003 individuals died from cardiovascular disease and 8,935 from all-causes. Irrespective of level of occupational physical activity, a consistently lower risk with increasing leisure time physical activity was found for both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality among both men and women. Compared to low leisure time physical activity, the survival benefit ranged from 1.5-3.6 years for moderate and 2.6-4.7 years for high leisure time physical activity among the different levels of occupational physical activity.

Conclusion: Public campaigns and initiatives for increasing physical activity in the working population should target everybody, irrespective of physical activity at work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Work

Grant support

The study is a part of the Physical Work Demands and Fitness Project, financed by the Danish Working Environment Research Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.