Moderate Exercise and Mortality Risk

Byron's Comments:

Hope for inactive people - even doing some moderate exercise consistently can really help.

Study Title:

Non-vigorous physical activity and all-cause mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies

Study Abstract:

Background Although previous studies have found physical activity to be associated with lower mortality, the dose–response relationship remains unclear. In this systematic review and meta-analysis we quantify the dose–response relationship of non-vigorous physical activity and all-cause mortality.

Methods We aimed to include all cohort studies in adult populations with a sample size of more than 10 000 participants that estimated the effect of different levels of light or moderate physical activity on all-cause mortality. We searched Medline, Embase, Cochrane (DARE), Web of Science and Global Health (June 2009). We used dose–response meta-regression models to estimate the relation between non-vigorous physical activity and mortality.

Results We identified 22 studies that met our inclusion criteria, containing 977 925 (334 738 men and 643 187 women) people. There was considerable variation between the studies in their categorization of physical activity and adjustment for potential confounders. We found that 2.5 h/week (equivalent to 30 min daily of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week) compared with no activity was associated with a reduction in mortality risk of 19% [95% confidence interval (CI) 15–24], while 7 h/week of moderate activity compared with no activity reduced the mortality risk by 24% (95% CI 19–29). We found a smaller effect in studies that looked at walking alone.

Conclusion Being physically active reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. The largest benefit was found from moving from no activity to low levels of activity, but even at high levels of activity benefits accrue from additional activity.

From press release:

A new study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Cambridge University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has found that even light or moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking or cycling, can substantially reduced the risk of early death.

The study, published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, combined the results from the largest studies around the world on the health impact of light and moderate intensity physical activity. It showed that the largest health benefits from light or moderate activity (such as walking and cycling) were in people who do hardly any physical activity at all. Although more activity is better—the benefits of even a small amount of physical activity are very large in the least physically active.

The good news from this study is that you don’t have to be an exercise freak to benefit from physical activity. Just achieving the recommended levels of physical activity (equivalent to 30 minutes daily of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week) reduces the risk of death by 19% [95%confidence interval 15% to 24%], while 7 hours per week of moderate activity (compared with no activity) reduces the risk of death by 24% (95% CI 19% to 29%).

Lead researcher, James Woodcock said, “This research confirms that is not just exercising hard that is good for you but even moderate everyday activities, like walking and cycling, can have major health benefits. Just walking to the shops or walking the children to school can lengthen your life—as well as bringing other benefits for well-being and the environment.”

Study Information:

James Woodcock, Oscar H Franco, Nicola Orsini, and Ian Roberts Non-vigorous physical activity and all-cause mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies Int. J. Epidemiol., 2010 July 
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Cambridge University

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