Coronary heart disease (CHD) is uncommonly low among black South Africans. Although dietary and genetic influences probably contribute to their favorable serum lipid profile, other cardioprotective factors may also play a significant role in explaining the low incidence of CHD. From a socioeconomic perspective, it appears that the black community engages in regular physical activity (PA) more so than other populations. Since data are lacking, our aim was to provide preliminary data on the association between PA and the traditional CHD risk factors. The sample consisted of 212 working, middle-aged men drawn from an epidemiological database on the African population of metropolitan Cape Town. Analysis of responses to basic questions on PA behavior indicated i) 43% of the sample were employed in jobs requiring moderate to strenuous PA, and ii) the most favorable blood pressure and serum lipid profiles were associated with low to moderate levels of habitual exercise. As this community becomes more urbanized, job-related PA as well as PA of daily living will decline. The need for sports and leisure-time PA programs will become more important and should be considered as part of a public health strategic plan.
(C)1994The American College of Sports Medicine