Inadequate exercise as a risk factor for sepsis mortality

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 4;8(12):e79344. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079344. eCollection 2013.


Objective: Test whether inadequate exercise is related to sepsis mortality.

Research design and methods: Mortality surveillance of an epidemiological cohort of 155,484 National Walkers' and Runners' Health Study participants residing in the United States. Deaths were monitored for an average of 11.6-years using the National Death index through December 31, 2008. Cox proportional hazard analyses were used to compare sepsis mortality (ICD-10 A40-41) to inadequate exercise (<1.07 METh/d run or walked) as measured on their baseline questionnaires. Deaths occurring within one year of the baseline survey were excluded.

Results: Sepsis was the underlying cause in 54 deaths (sepsis(underlying)) and a contributing cause in 184 deaths (sepsis(contributing)), or 238 total sepsis-related deaths (sepsis(total)). Inadequate exercise was associated with 2.24-fold increased risk for sepsis(underlying) (95%CI: 1.21 to 4.07-fold, P = 0.01), 2.11-fold increased risk for sepsis(contributing) (95%CI: 1.51- to 2.92-fold, P<10(-4)), and 2.13-fold increased risk for sepsis(total) (95%CI: 1.59- to 2.84-fold, P<10(-6)) when adjusted for age, sex, race, and cohort. The risk increase did not differ significantly between runners and walkers, by sex, or by age. Sepsis(total) risk was greater in diabetics (P = 10(-5)), cancer survivors (P = 0.0001), and heart attack survivors (P = 0.003) and increased with waist circumference (P = 0.0004). The sepsis(total) risk associated with inadequate exercise persisted when further adjusted for diabetes, prior cancer, prior heart attack and waist circumference, and when excluding deaths with cancer, or cardiovascular, respiratory, or genitourinary disease as the underlying cause. Inadequate exercise also increased sepsis(total) risk in 2163 baseline diabetics (4.78-fold, 95%CI: 2.1- to 13.8-fold, P = 0.0001) when adjusted, which was significantly greater (P = 0.03) than the adjusted risk increase in non-diabetics (1.80-fold, 95%CI: 1.30- to 2.46-fold, P = 0.0006).

Conclusion: Inadequate exercise is a risk factor for sepsis mortality, particular in diabetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / physiology
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sepsis / complications
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Sepsis / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Waist Circumference
  • Walking / physiology