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Int J Epidemiol. 2019 Feb 5. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyy294. [Epub ahead of print]

Physical activity of UK adults with chronic disease: cross-sectional analysis of accelerometer-measured physical activity in 96 706 UK Biobank participants.

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The George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
International Agency for Research on Cancer, Genetic Epidemiology Group, Lyon, France.
Big Data Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Physical inactivity is associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases, although uncertainty exists about which chronic diseases, themselves, might contribute to physical inactivity. The objective of this study was to compare the physical activity of those with chronic diseases to healthy individuals using an objective measure of physical activity.


We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of data from 96 706 participants aged 40 years or older from the UK Biobank prospective cohort study (2006-10). Diagnoses were identified through ICD 9 and 10 coding within hospital admission records and a cancer registry linked to UK Biobank participants. We extracted summary physical activity information from participants who wore a wrist-worn triaxial accelerometer for 7 days. Statistical analyses included computation of adjusted geometric means and means using general linear models.


Participants with chronic disease undertook 9% or 61 minutes (95% confidence interval: 57.8-64.8) less moderate activity and 11% or 3 minutes (95% confidence interval: 2.7-3.3) less vigorous activity per week than individuals without chronic disease. Participants in every chronic-disease subgroup undertook less physical activity than those without chronic disease. Sixty-seven diagnoses within these subgroups were associated with lower moderate activity.


The cross-sectional association of physical activity with chronic disease is broad. Given the substantial health benefits of being physically active, clinicians and policymakers should be aware that their patients with any chronic disease are at greater health risk from other diseases than anticipated because of their physical inactivity.

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