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      Physical activity trajectories and mortality: population based cohort study


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          To assess the prospective associations of baseline and long term trajectories of physical activity on mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.


          Population based cohort study.


          Adults from the general population in the UK.


          14 599 men and women (aged 40 to 79) from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk cohort, assessed at baseline (1993 to 1997) up to 2004 for lifestyle and other risk factors; then followed to 2016 for mortality (median of 12.5 years of follow-up, after the last exposure assessment).

          Main exposure

          Physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) derived from questionnaires, calibrated against combined movement and heart rate monitoring.

          Main outcome measures

          Mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Multivariable proportional hazards regression models were adjusted for age, sex, sociodemographics, and changes in medical history, overall diet quality, body mass index, blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.


          During 171 277 person years of follow-up, 3148 deaths occurred. Long term increases in PAEE were inversely associated with mortality, independent of baseline PAEE. For each 1 kJ/kg/day per year increase in PAEE (equivalent to a trajectory of being inactive at baseline and gradually, over five years, meeting the World Health Organization minimum physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity), hazard ratios were: 0.76 (95% confidence interval 0.71 to 0.82) for all cause mortality, 0.71 (0.62 to 0.82) for cardiovascular disease mortality, and 0.89 (0.79 to 0.99) for cancer mortality, adjusted for baseline PAEE, and established risk factors. Similar results were observed when analyses were stratified by medical history of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Joint analyses with baseline and trajectories of physical activity show that, compared with consistently inactive individuals, those with increasing physical activity trajectories over time experienced lower risks of mortality from all causes, with hazard ratios of 0.76 (0.65 to 0.88), 0.62 (0.53 to 0.72), and 0.58 (0.43 to 0.78) at low, medium, and high baseline physical activity, respectively. At the population level, meeting and maintaining at least the minimum physical activity recommendations would potentially prevent 46% of deaths associated with physical inactivity.


          Middle aged and older adults, including those with cardiovascular disease and cancer, can gain substantial longevity benefits by becoming more physically active, irrespective of past physical activity levels and established risk factors. Considerable population health impacts can be attained with consistent engagement in physical activity during mid to late life.

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          Most cited references18

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          Dose response between physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis.

          No reviews have quantified the specific amounts of physical activity required for lower risks of coronary heart disease when assessing the dose-response relation. Instead, previous reviews have used qualitative estimates such as low, moderate, and high physical activity. We performed an aggregate data meta-analysis of epidemiological studies investigating physical activity and primary prevention of CHD. We included prospective cohort studies published in English since 1995. After reviewing 3194 abstracts, we included 33 studies. We used random-effects generalized least squares spline models for trend estimation to derive pooled dose-response estimates. Among the 33 studies, 9 allowed quantitative estimates of leisure-time physical activity. Individuals who engaged in the equivalent of 150 min/wk of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity (minimum amount, 2008 U.S. federal guidelines) had a 14% lower coronary heart disease risk (relative risk, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.77 to 0.96) compared with those reporting no leisure-time physical activity. Those engaging in the equivalent of 300 min/wk of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity (2008 U.S. federal guidelines for additional benefits) had a 20% (relative risk, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.74 to 0.88) lower risk. At higher levels of physical activity, relative risks were modestly lower. People who were physically active at levels lower than the minimum recommended amount also had significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. There was a significant interaction by sex (P=0.03); the association was stronger among women than men. These findings provide quantitative data supporting US physical activity guidelines that stipulate that "some physical activity is better than none" and "additional benefits occur with more physical activity."
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            Physical activity and reduced risk of cardiovascular events: potential mediating mechanisms.

            Higher levels of physical activity are associated with fewer cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. Although the precise mechanisms underlying this inverse association are unclear, differences in several cardiovascular risk factors may mediate this effect. In a prospective study of 27,055 apparently healthy women, we measured baseline levels of hemoglobin A1c, traditional lipids (total, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), novel lipids [lipoprotein(a) and apolipoprotein A1 and B-100], creatinine, homocysteine, and inflammatory/hemostatic biomarkers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, soluble intracellular adhesion molecule-1) and used women's self-reported physical activity, weight, height, hypertension, and diabetes. Mean follow-up was 10.9+/-1.6 years, and 979 incident CVD events occurred. The risk of CVD decreased linearly with higher levels of activity (P for linear trend or = 1500 kcal/wk of 27%, 32%, and 41%, respectively. Differences in known risk factors explained a large proportion (59.0%) of the observed inverse association. When sets of risk factors were examined, inflammatory/hemostatic biomarkers made the largest contribution to lower risk (32.6%), followed by blood pressure (27.1%). Novel lipids contributed less to CVD risk reduction compared with traditional lipids (15.5% and 19.1%, respectively). Smaller contributions were attributed to body mass index (10.1%) and hemoglobin A1c/diabetes (8.9%), whereas homocysteine and creatinine had negligible effects (< 1%). The inverse association between physical activity and CVD risk is mediated in substantial part by known risk factors, particularly inflammatory/hemostatic factors and blood pressure.
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              Even a low-dose of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces mortality by 22% in adults aged ≥60 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

              The health benefits of 150 min a week of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) in older adults, as currently recommended, are well established, but the suggested dose in older adults is often not reached.

                Author and article information

                Role: PhD student
                Role: professor
                Role: head of bioinformatics
                Role: professor
                Role: research programme leader
                The BMJ
                BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
                26 June 2019
                : 365
                : l2323
                [1 ]MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, Box 285 Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK
                [2 ]Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: S Brage soren.brage@ 123456mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk
                Author information
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                : 25 April 2019



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