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Am J Public Health. 2012 Apr;102(4):698-704. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300257. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Effect of intensity and type of physical activity on mortality: results from the Whitehall II cohort study.

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  • 1Centre for Research in Epidemiology & Population Health, INSERM, Villejuif, France.



We examined the association of intensity and type of physical activity with mortality.


We assessed the duration of physical activity by intensity level and type in 7456 men and women from the Whitehall II Study by questionnaire in 1997-1999 (mean ±SD age = 55.9 ± 6.0 years) and 5 years later. All-cause mortality was assessed until April 2009.


A total of 317 participants died during the mean follow-up of 9.6 years (SD = 2.7). Reporting at least 1 hour per week of moderate activity was associated with a 33% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 14%, 45%) lower risk of mortality compared with less than 1 hour. For all physical activity types examined, except housework, a duration of physical activity greater than 0 (≥ 3.5 hours for walking) was associated with lower mortality in age-adjusted analyses, but only the associations with sports (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.56, 0.91) and do-it-yourself activity (HR = 0.68; 95% CI = 0.53, 0.98) remained in fully adjusted analyses.


It is important to consider both intensity and type of physical activity when examining associations with mortality.

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