Physical activity types and life expectancy with and without cardiovascular disease: the Rotterdam Study

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We aimed to determine the contribution of specific physical activity (PA) types (i.e. walking, cycling, domestic work, sports and gardening) on total life expectancy (LE) and LE with and without cardiovascular disease (CVD).


We constructed multistate life tables to calculate the effects of total PA and PA types on LE, among individuals older than 55 years from the Rotterdam Study. For the life table calculations, we used sex-specific prevalences, incident rates and hazard ratios for three transitions (healthy-to-CVD, healthy-to-death and CVD-to-death) by levels of PA and adjusted for confounders.


High total PA was associated with gains in total and CVD-free LE. High cycling contributed to higher total LE in men (3.7 years) and women (2.1 years) and higher LE without CVD in men (3.1 years) and women (2.4 years). Total and CVD-free LE were increased by high domestic work in women (2.6 and 2.4 years, respectively) and high gardening in men (2.7 and 2.0 years, respectively).


Higher PA levels are associated with increased LE and more years lived without CVD. Of the different PA types, cycling provided high effects in both men and women. Cycling could be more strongly encouraged in activity guidelines to maximize the population benefits of PA.

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