Increased physical activity reduces risk of early mortality by 40 percent

A new study has claimed that increased physical activity reduces the risk of early mortality by almost 40 percent.

Guenther Samitz, a researcher in physical activity and public health at the Centre for Sports Sciences and University Sports of the University of Vienna investigated the link between increased levels of physical activity of different domains, occupation, daily living, transportation, leisure, and all-cause mortality, with a meta-study representing more than 1.3 million participants.

The researchers identified about 7,000 potentially relevant reports, of which a total of 80 cohort studies with more than 1.3 million study participants from Europe, Canada, United States, and Asia fulfilled the strict inclusion criteria.

At the onset of the study, participants had to be free of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic conditions and they were followed up by a median of 11 years.

“The results of the included studies were combined and controlled for other potential influential factors, e.g. cigarette smoking, alcohol uptake, body mass index, blood pressure, nutrition, education and social factors,” Samitz said.

The study found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with reduced all-cause mortality, regardless whether in job, daily living, leisure or active transportation, however the association was higher for leisure time physical activity and activities of daily living, and mortality reductions were more pronounced in women when compared with men.

Women and older persons even had a survival benefit when engaging in regular light-to-moderate intensity activities of daily living like domestic work, gardening, walking or bicycling to the shopping mall.

“Any physical activity is better than none and even activities of daily life are associated with a survival benefit, but more and vigorous-intensity physical activity are associated with a larger reduction in all-cause mortality,” Samitz said.

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“Nonetheless, sedentary adults should start with moderate-intensity physical activities and slowly increase weekly dose and intensity, because in sedentary adults vigorous-intensity physical activity is associated with increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries and adverse cardiac events,” he added.

The study has been published in International Journal of Epidemiology.

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