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02-05-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Leisure time exercise significantly reduces CVD mortality


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MedWire News: Increased levels of physical activity during leisure time are associated with significantly reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, a study shows.

Arrigo Cicero (University of Bologna, Italy) and team presented the findings of the Brisighella Heart Study at the 22nd European Meeting on Hypertension and Cardiovascular Protection in London, UK.

The study explored the relationship between self-rated physical activity during leisure time and CVD mortality in 2936 individuals of the Brisighella Heart Study cohort. All participants were aged between 14 and 84 years and free from CVD at baseline.

The level of physical activity undertaken by each individual in the previous year was assessed via questionnaire. The resulting physical activity intensity was then classified into three self-rated categories: scarce/null, medium, or intense.

Individuals were classified as having a scarce/null level of physical activity if they were sedentary (reading, watching TV, stamp collecting) or engaged in moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking and cycling for less than 30 minutes on 5 days a week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running, swimming, heavy gardening) for less than 20 minutes on 3 days a week.

A medium level of physical activity was defined as taking part in either moderate-intensity activities as between 30-60 minutes on 5 days a week, or vigorous-intensity activities between 20-40 minutes on 3 days a week.

An intense level of physical activity was defined as taking part in moderate-intensity physical activities for more than 60 minutes on 5 days a week or vigorous-intensity activities for more than 40 minutes on 3 days a week.

At baseline, 377 (25.3%) men and 496 (34.3%) women reported engaging in scarce or no physical activity, while 1122 (74.7%) men and 951 (65.7%) women reported medium or intense physical activity.

From 1988 to 2000, CV mortality was a significant three times higher in participants with scarce/null physical activity than those who engaged in medium/intense physical activity.

These results were confirmed in men and in women, the authors note. Indeed, CVD mortality was four times higher in men who reported scarce/null physical activity compared with those who reported medium-intensity physical activity, and three times higher in women who reported scarce/null physical activity.

When the population was further subdivided by age group, an increased risk for CVD mortality associated with scarce/null physical activity was observed only in younger men (<65 years). Indeed, men aged 65 and below with scarce/null physical activity had a three times higher risk for CVD mortality than those who engaged in medium-intense physical activity.

Age-adjusted Cox analysis demonstrated that, besides physical activity level, the only covariates associated with CVD mortality were systolic blood pressure, at a relative risk (RR) of 1.25, and smoking habit, at an RR of 1.38.

"In the free-living and Mediterranean population of Brisighella, a low level of physical activity appears to be strongly related to CVD mortality, which suggests the importance of improving physical activity during daily life," said Cicero.

"Our study confirms the importance of physical activity, particularly during the leisure time, as an effective toll for CVD prevention particularly under the age of 65 years."

By Piriya Mahendra

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