Associations between changes in physical activity and risk factors for coronary heart disease in a community-based sample of men and women: the Stanford Five-City Project

Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Aug 15;138(4):205-16. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116849.


Aerobic exercise training studies involving volunteers generally result in an improved cardiovascular risk factor profile. Little is known, however, about associations between physical activity change and risk factor change in a more representative sample, such as a community. This investigation evaluated correlations between a composite physical activity change score and change in cardiovascular risk factors from 1979 to 1985 in the cohort sample of the Stanford Five-City Project. Men (n = 380) and women (n = 427) between the ages of 18 and 74 years were evaluated for change in self-reported physical activity and change in total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol), systolic blood pressure, resting pulse rate, and body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)2). For men, improvement in the composite physical activity score significantly correlated with an increase in HDL cholesterol (r = 0.14, p = 0.005) and decreases in body mass index (r = -0.16, p = 0.001) and estimated 10-year coronary heart disease risk score (r = -0.10, p = 0.056). For women, improvement in the physical activity score was associated with changes in HDL cholesterol (r = 0.11, p = 0.028) and resting pulse rate (r = -0.15, p = 0.001). These data demonstrate that an increase in physical activity over 5 years is favorably associated with changes in major cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women and support the public health efficacy of community-wide promotion of physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • California
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness
  • Pulse
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Cholesterol