The Importance of Vigorous-Intensity Leisure-Time Physical Activity in Reducing Cardiovascular Disease Mortality Risk in the Obese

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the role of vigorous-intensity leisure-time physical activity in reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality risk in the obese.

Participants and Methods:

Trained interviewers assessed physical activity and body mass index (BMI; calculated as the weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared) in 59,005 adult participants (mean ± SD age, 57±12 years; 46.5% male) in 2 household-based surveillance studies: Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey. Mortality was ascertained from death certificates. Data were collected from January 1, 1994, through March 31, 2011. Cox proportional hazards models were adjusted for age, sex, smoking habit, total physical activity, long-standing illness, prevalent CVD, and occupation.

Results:

There were 2302 CVD deaths during 532,251 person-years of follow-up (mean ± SD, 9±4 years). A total of 15,002 (25%) participants were categorized as obese (BMI ≥30). Leisure-time physical activity was inversely associated and BMI was positively associated with CVD mortality. Compared with those who reported meeting physical activity guidelines including some vigorous-intensity physical activity and who had a normal BMI (18.5-24.9) (reference group), the CVD mortality hazard ratio was not significantly different in the obese who also reported meeting physical activity guidelines including some vigorous-intensity physical activities (1.25; 95% CI, 0.50-3.12). Compared with the reference group, the CVD mortality hazard ratio was more than 2-fold in the obese who reported meeting physical activity guidelines, including only moderate-intensity physical activities (2.52; 95% CI, 1.15-2.53).

Conclusion:

This large, statistically powerful study suggests that vigorous-intensity leisure-time physical activity is important in reducing CVD mortality risk in the obese.

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