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Study... Higher Physical Activity Levels After a Chronic Disease Diagnosis Reduced Mortality

There is clear and abundant evidence supporting an association between physical activity levels and decreased mortality in the general population. However, in adults with a chronic disease, the evidence supporting a dose-response relationship between higher physical activity levels and decreased mortality is less clear. In this case, a dose response relationship would mean as physical activity increases, mortality decreases. 

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity involved a systematic review and meta-analysis of the dose-response relationship between post-diagnosis physical activity and mortality in people with certain chronic conditions. Ultimately the study included 28 articles on:

  • type 2 diabetes, 

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 

  • breast cancer, and 

  • ischemic heart disease (IHD). 

According to the study results, there is a link between physical activity and lower mortality from any cause. For every 10 MET-hours (10 MET-hours could be equivalent to several hours of light intensity exercise or one hour of very intense activity) increase in weekly physical activity, the probability of mortality decreased.  More active groups  saw reductions of 22% for breast cancer, 12% for IHD, by 30% for COPD, and by 4% for type 2 diabetes compared to less active groups.  Dose-response relationships became less defined for physical activity levels exceeding five times the weekly recommendations. Though there may be the risk of bias—due to reliance on self-reported physical activity and observational versus randomized controlled trials—these findings align with previous research suggesting higher physical activity levels are linked to lower risk of mortality.

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