The combined relationship of occupational and leisure-time physical activity with all-cause mortality among men, accounting for physical fitness

Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Mar 1;179(5):559-66. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt294. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


The aim of this study was to assess the combined relationship of occupational physical activity and leisure-time physical activity with all-cause mortality among men, while accounting for physical fitness. The prospective Belgian Physical Fitness Study included 1,456 male workers aged 40-55 years who were free of coronary heart disease at baseline. Baseline data were collected through questionnaires and clinical examinations from 1976 to 1978. To estimate physical fitness, a submaximal graded exercise test was performed on a bicycle ergometer. Total mortality was registered during a mean follow-up period of 16.9 years. Main results were obtained through Cox proportional hazards regression analysis. A total of 145 deaths were registered during follow-up. After adjustment for confounders, a significantly increased mortality rate was observed in workers who had low levels of both physical activity types (hazard ratio = 2.07, 95% confidence interval: 1.03, 4.19) but also in workers combining high occupational physical activity and low leisure-time physical activity (hazard ratio = 2.04, 95% confidence interval: 1.07, 3.91); the latter finding was particularly pronounced among workers with a low physical fitness level. The present results confirm the existence of a complex interplay among different physical activity settings and fitness levels in predicting mortality.

Keywords: mortality; occupation; physical activity; physical fitness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires