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Physical activity and risk of cardiovascular disease: what does the new epidemiological evidence show?

Li, Jiana,b; Loerbroks, Adrianb,c; Angerer, Petera

doi: 10.1097/HCO.0b013e328364289c
PREVENTION: Edited by Andrew Pipe

Purpose of review Abundant evidence has documented inverse associations of physical activity and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the effects of different types of physical activity (e.g., leisure time and occupational physical activity) are still poorly understood.

Recent findings Drawing on recommended and established guidelines for study selection, we identified and included 23 prospective epidemiological studies published during the last 2 years. These studies included a total of more than 790 000 adults at baseline with some 22 000 incident cases occurring during follow-up. Our findings suggest that moderate and high levels of leisure time physical activity are associated with a moderately reduced risk of CVD. In contrast, moderate and high levels of occupational physical activity showed weak positive associations, that is, a slightly increased risk of CVD.

Summary This updated meta-analysis supports the notion of primary prevention of CVD through engagement in leisure time physical activity. The role of occupational physical activity in CVD prevention is questionable.

aInstitute of Occupational and Social Medicine

bInstitute of Medical Sociology, Center for Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf

cMannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Mannheim Medical Faculty, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany

Correspondence to Dr Jian Li, Institute of Occupational and Social Medicine, Center for Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine, University of Düsseldorf, Universitätsstrasse 1, Düsseldorf 40225, Germany. Tel: +49 211 8108161; fax: +49 211 8115334; e-mail:

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