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Effects of Leisure and Non-Leisure Physical Activity on Mortality in U.S. Adults over Two Decades

Alejandro Arrieta, PhD and Louise Russell, PhD

Annals of Epidemiology
PURPOSE: To estimate the effects of the components of total physical activity, leisure-time and nonleisure activity, on all-cause mortality over two decades in a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. METHODS: We used the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I, 1971 1975) and its Epidemiologic Followup Study (NHEFS), which tracked deaths of NHANES I participants through 1992. Using multivariable Cox regression, and multiple imputation for missing values of control variables, we related baseline leisure-time and non-leisure physical activity to all-cause mortality during follow-up, controlling for other risk factors. Adults 35 through 59 years of age (NZ5884) and 60 through 74 years of age (N Z 4590) were analyzed separately. RESULTS: For persons aged 3559, moderate non-leisure activity at baseline significantly reduced mortality risk over the next two decades by about 26%, high non-leisure activity by about 37%, compared with low non-leisure activity. For persons 6074, risk reductions were 34% and 38%, respectively. Leisuretime activity was associated with lower mortality, but was not consistently significant when both types of activity were entered in the regressions. CONCLUSIONS: Over two decades, non-leisure physical activity was associated with a substantial reduction in all-cause mortality. These results contribute to a growing number of studies that support the importance of measuring all physical activity.

Alejandro Arrieta and Louise Russell. "Effects of Leisure and Non-Leisure Physical Activity on Mortality in U.S. Adults over Two Decades," Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 18: 889-895, 2008.