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Br J Sports Med. 2009 Jul;43(7):482.

Total mortality after changes in leisure time physical activity in 50 year old men: 35 year follow-up of population based cohort.

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Department of Surgical Sciences, Section of Orthopaedics, and Uppsala Clinical Research Centre, Uppsala University, SE-75185 Uppsala, Sweden.



To examine how change in level of physical activity after middle age influences mortality and to compare it with the effect of smoking cessation.


Population based cohort study with follow-up over 35 years.


Municipality of Uppsala, Sweden.


2205 men aged 50 in 1970-3 who were reexamined at ages 60, 70, 77, and 82 years.


Total (all cause) mortality.


The absolute mortality rate was 27.1, 23.6, and 18.4 per 1000 person years in the groups with low, medium, and high physical activity, respectively. The relative rate reduction attributable to high physical activity was 32% for low and 22% for medium physical activity. Men who increased their physical activity level between the ages of 50 and 60 continued to have a higher mortality rate during the first five years of follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio 2.64, 95% confidence interval 1.32 to 5.27, compared with unchanged high physical activity). After 10 years of follow-up their increased physical activity was associated with reduced mortality to the level of men with unchanged high physical activity (1.10, 0.87 to 1.38). The reduction in mortality associated with increased physical activity (0.51, 0.26 to 0.97, compared with unchanged low physical activity) was similar to that associated with smoking cessation (0.64, 0.53 to 0.78, compared with continued smoking).


Increased physical activity in middle age is eventually followed by a reduction in mortality to the same level as seen among men with constantly high physical activity. This reduction is comparable with that associated with smoking cessation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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