Introduction Physical activity is now recognised as an important determinant of health status. Thus it is important to explore its relation to mortality in transitional populations.
Methods We examined the association between self reported physical activity and mortality in a rural adult cohort numbering over 70 000 in southern India in the first 5 years of observation, from 2001 to 2006. The scores assigned under occupational and non-occupational recreational categories based on previous studies, were added to arrive at a total activity score. Based on this, we categorised subjects into those with mild, moderate, and heavy physical activity.
Results There is an inverse relationship between death rate and physical activity, with a much greater effect in women, true for both all cause and cardiovascular mortality. The effect is more pronounced in smoking males compared to non-smoking males. The protection offered by physical activity is also more evident in subjects aged 40–65 years. Heavy physical activity does not seem to confer proportionately greater protection as compared to moderate activity.
Conclusion Our observations confirm published reports on the protective effect of physical activity on health. Our data support the possibility that subjects with poor physical activity have more chronic morbidity, which underlies higher mortality. Clear cut relationships would emerge only with longer term follow-up of the cohort with physical activity profiles being captured at regular intervals.
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