Leisure Time Physical Activity and Cardio-Metabolic Health: Results From the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil)

J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jun 13;5(6):e003337. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.116.003337.


Background: Although increasing effort has been devoted to the promotion of a healthy lifestyle such as leisure time physical activity for cardio-metabolic health, specific evidence supporting health policy remains sparse, particularly in those ethnically diverse populations where cardio-metabolic diseases are reaching epidemic proportion and yet are grossly understudied.

Methods and results: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data from 10 585 participants aged 35 to 74 free of cardiovascular diseases in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health. Leisure time physical activity status was defined by the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization recommendations (≥150 min/week moderate activities or 75 min/week vigorous activities). In total, 1183 (21%) women and 1387 (29%) men were active. After accounting for covariates, the favorable effects of leisure time physical activity on cardio-metabolic parameters were evident. Specifically, the average blood pressure, heart rate, and Framingham Risk Score for cardiovascular diseases of the active were significantly lower within each sex. The ORs comparing the active versus the inactive women were 0.78 (95% CI: 0.66-0.92) for hypertension and 0.78 (95% CI: 0.65-0.93) for cardiovascular diseases in 10 years. Among men, the ORs were 0.75 (95% CI: 0.65-0.87) for hypertension and 0.73 (95% CI: 0.61-0.87) for diabetes. The 10-year risk of cardiovascular diseases was significantly lower among the active men with a 33% reduction (OR=0.67, 95% CI: 0.57-0.78).

Conclusions: We observed beneficial effects of leisure time physical activity on cardio-metabolic health in this large Brazilian population that are consistent with studies in North America and Europe.

Keywords: Brazil; cardio‐metabolic health; physical exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle / physiology
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged