Introduction Physical activity is associated with cardiovascular risk in Western populations but evidence from the Chinese population is limited.
Methods We examined baseline data on over 500 000 people aged 30–79 years who, during 2004–2008, were recruited into a prospective study from 10 regions in China. Information on physical activity was collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire that enquired about the frequency, duration and intensity of work-related and leisure activities. Total physical activity (MET-hours/day) was calculated from the time reportedly spent on each activity and the published estimate of energy expenditure per unit time (MET) for that specific activity. Body mass index, blood pressure and capillary glucose were measured. Outcomes of interest included overweight, hypertension, diabetes status (which were all defined using established criteria) and self-reported history of ischaemic heart disease (IHD). Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the association of physical activity with each outcome.
Results Of the 456 118 participants who were free of major chronic diseases other than IHD, the mean age was 51 years and 60% were women. Physical activity was significantly inversely associated with overweight, hypertension, diabetes and IHD, after adjustment for age, sex, region, education, income and smoking status. Comparing the bottom 20% vs the top 20% of physical activity, the adjusted ORs were: 1.25 (95% CI 1.23 to 1.28) for overweight, 1.23 (1.19 to 1.26) for hypertension, 1.72 (1.63 to 1.82) for diabetes and 1.59 (1.46 to 1.73) for IHD (each p<0.0001).
Conclusion In Chinese adults, low physical activity is associated with an increased prevalence of overweight, hypertension, diabetes and IHD.
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