Is Traditional Chinese Exercise Associated With Lower Mortality Rates in Older People? Evidence From a Prospective Chinese Elderly Cohort Study in Hong Kong

Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Jan 1;183(1):36-45. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv142. Epub 2015 Dec 8.


The inverse association of aerobic exercise with death has been well documented. However, evidence on traditional Chinese exercise (TCE) and rate of death in older Chinese is limited. Multivariable Cox regression analysis was used to assess the associations of TCE and other types of physical activity with death from all causes and specific causes in a population-based prospective cohort of 66,820 Chinese persons (≥65 years of age) who were enrolled between July 1998 and December 2001 at all 18 Elderly Health Centers in Hong Kong and followed up until May 31, 2012. During an average of 10.9 years of follow-up, 19,845 deaths occurred. TCE was inversely associated with death from all causes (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.78, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.74, 0.82), cardiovascular disease (HR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.70, 0.85), cancer (HR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.77, 0.92), and respiratory disease (HR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.63, 0.80) but was not associated with death from accidents (excluding falls) (HR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.44, 1.42), after adjustment for age, sex, socioeconomic position, alcohol use, smoking, body mass index, and health status. The associations did not vary by amount of TCE. Aerobic exercise had similar inverse associations as TCE, but associations for stretching exercises and walking slowly were less marked. Further studies of TCE are warranted in older Chinese.

Keywords: aerobic exercise; elderly cohort study; mortality rate; traditional Chinese exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cause of Death
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods*
  • Mortality*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors